I am alone.
I am alone in a room.
I am not lonely in this room, all by myself.
in this BLACK room there is LIGHT.
I move left, then right, and I turn around and smile.
The light follows me,
from left to right and back again
in this BLACK room,
all by myself.
as you listen
You watch as I sit in a room BREATHING
moving, laughing, talking,
I can hear you shuffling
That is why I don’t feel alone
as I sit, MOVE, talk.
In this room. BLACK. Alone.
Your eyes follow me from left to right.
I move. You sit.
I am searching
for stillness, light, and breath
in this room
with you watching me move, talk, BREATHE
as I search for the thing I don’t understand,
this FOREIGN SKIN.
I love the photograph of me (at the top of the post), taken by photographer Luke Calder. I had the pleasure of working with him on the launch of a theatre show that I made about ten years ago,”The Wholly Grain.” The story is about a young girl who dreams of becoming an artist against the wishes of her traditional Chinese family. I played about 7 characters on the show’s first outing, and then progressed to 10 characters (it was a solo show) on a re-worked version.
I’ve always been quite a visual person, and I wanted to play with ‘light’ in a very specific way, using a lot of shadow, and boxes of light which would frame a specific part of my body/movement. There’s something special for me about being under stage lights. The warmth provides a kind of security, especially when you’re on stage all by yourself and there’s no-one else to bounce off or share energy with. Without lights, a stage always feels cold and empty to me, and as per my previous post…I hate to be cold!
I think what Luke captured in this photo is exactly what I wanted to convey in the story, and also what I was experiencing at the time–a confusion about my identity, a search for a true self and meaning, to find comfort in my skin… There’s an anguish, an elation, frustration, heightened emotion… I didn’t know my husband back then, but for some reason he doesn’t like me in this photo. I find that strange, because it really ‘fits’ me (the internal me as I see myself) and I felt like Luke really captured a strength that was about to be unleashed!
Although I’ve moved away from theatre, I feel more comfortable making radio. It gives me the opportunity to ‘perform’ behind the curtain in a way (I always felt a degree of discomfort being looked at on stage). But as a visual person, imagery sparks my creativity and the urge to write. It’s the same with making radio too. I always like to create ‘pictures’ for my listeners with sound.
Have I found what I was searching for? As time has progressed, I find that that ‘self’ and how I identify, always changes. Embarking on new things: starting a family, new challenges in my career…these things force me to encounter a ‘different’ self as my role(s) change. If anything, I’ve come closer to acknowledging that I’m ‘multi-faceted’ as opposed to a singular entity that I was so desperate to define.
*On questions of identity, you can listen to a radio series that I made a few years ago about the Chinese in NZ here. There are some excerpts from my solo show that I integrated into the documentary too.