Throughout my time of working in China and setting up Hua Dan, I have been privileged to hear the stories of migrant, rural and urban women who have generously shared their experiences of what it means to be a woman in modern China today.
Furthermore, as theatre people, stories are our medium of communication, windows through which we can empathise and connect, build relationships and a deeper understanding and compassion for others. I am a particular fan of the writer Ben Okri’s quote:
“Stories can conquer fear you know. They can make the heart bigger.”
It was stories about China’s women that first lead me to Beijing in 2003, when I read Xinran’s book, ‘The Good Women of China’. During the 1980s, Xinran hosted a late-night radio programme ‘Words on the Night Breeze’ that encouraged women to call in and relate their stories of living through the Cultural Revolution and its aftermath. The stories are powerful and provoking, at times shocking, but always authentic and profound in their insights to the reality of the lives of these women. It was out of a willingness to encourage Chinese women to continue to share their stories that I went to Beijing to establish Hua Dan and create the space for them to do so in our workshops.
Having run workshops in the community in Beijing and Sichuan for nearly 10 years now, Hua Dan’s Creative Director, Yang Yang Tao, and our Senior Associate, Jessica Naish, have a vision to create a performance – ‘Dumpling Dreams’ – that will bring to life the important and little heard stories of migrant women and families in China, stories such as the one of Zhong Na and her grandmother’s eggs
Yang Yang has been particularly encouraged by her recent experiences of interning at the National Theatre of Scotland as part of a British Council project and you can read more about her own story here. Hua Dan sees a big part of it’s job as encouraging the growth of leaders in the arts and we are excited to help Yang Yang achieve her dream of taking a production to Edinburgh Festival.
We’d love you to join us on our journey to take the Dumpling Dreams production to Edinburgh Festival. We need to raise £4000 to bring Yang Yang, Jin Lian and Liu Ran over to Edinburgh in August. If you feel inspired to get involved or donate to the project, please do check out the page on our website here. We look forward to making this dream come true!