2020 MARKS 25 YEARS OF YELLOW EARTH THEATRE
Artistic Director Kumiko Mendl celebrates 25 years of Yellow Earth Theatre; the company dedicated to developing and staging work by British East Asian* (BEA) theatre makers. Named after the seminal Chinese film of the same title, the company launched in 1995 to widen the type of roles being offered to BEA actors, writers, directors and designers, with the aim to create fresh and vibrant work that reflects the BEA experience.
Highlights from the anniversary year includes two world premières and a partnership with the Japan-UK Season of Culture. In January Fix, written by Julie Tsang and directed by Jen Tan, opens at Pleasance Theatre; and The Apology written by Kyo Choi and directed by Ria Parry opens at Arcola Theatre on 24 November. Yellow Earth will also launch Tsunagu/Connect, created by Kumiko Mendl with Kazuko Hohki, an immersive production which will uncover the lives of Japanese women in the UK, in partnership with The Japan Society and Museum of London.
In 2020, Yellow Earth continues its commitment to professional development as the second Professional Writers Programme begins in May 2020 which will culminate in four new plays from four BEA playwrights. The company’s acting summer school; Yellow Earth Academy which provides fully funded classes in voice, movement, stage combat and acting for camera in London and Birmingham will expand to include a new writing course, launching in Manchester in partnership with Royal Exchange Theatre, HOME, Contact, The Lowry, STUN and MIF
Artistic Director of Yellow Earth Theatre, Kumiko Mendl today said, “I’m really proud that Yellow Earth is still alive and very much kicking after 25 years. I came into post as Artistic Director in 2011 as the company’s funding was entirely cut, but I was determined to uphold and maintain our crucial mission of celebrating and developing British East Asian artists. So, it makes me doubly proud to be celebrating our 25th Anniversary this year, with the company now a National Portfolio Organisation and with a slate of exciting productions and programmes to launch our anniversary year. I sincerely hope the company can continue to grow and flourish over the coming years despite uncertain times, continuing to create opportunities for our artists and audiences across the country.”
in association with The Pleasance and Yellow Earth Theatre presents
By Julie Tsang
Directed by Jen Tan; Assistant Director: Zhui Ning Chang; Designer: Rachel Wingate;
Lighting Designer: Ali Hunter; Sound Designer: Richard Bell
14 January – 1 February 2020
Fix tells the story of Kevin, a washing machine repairman who finds himself inexplicably drawn to an old woman and her house in the woods. At first it seems like a simple fix but as a storm starts to close in, he is forced to confront the ghosts from his past.
Julie Tsang is a Scottish Chinese playwright. Her previous credits include The Family Unit (Barons Court Theatre – longlisted for the Bruntswood Prize), Lilyburgh Lane (Scotland Short Play Award – Cumbernauld Theatre), Troon (Theatre503) and I’m With Chico (Tron Theatre).
Mikey Anthony-Howe plays Kevin. His previous credits include Privates on Parade (Union Theatre), The Neath (Vault Festival) and Romeo & Juliet (The Everyman Theatre, Cardiff).
Tina Chiang plays Li Na. Her previous theatre credits include E8 (The Pleasance/The North Wall, Oxford), Mountains: The Dreams of Lily Kwok (Yellow Earth and Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester), Labour of Love (Noël Coward Theatre), Chimerica (Harold Pinter Theatre), Cyrano de Bergerac (Southwark Playhouse), Fox Attack (National Theatre Scotland/ Òran Mór) and Why The Lion Danced (Yellow Earth Theatre UK tour). Her credits for TV include Chimerica and Bodyguard.
Jen Tan directs. Her previous credits include A.I.D.A.N, Of Being Alone in a Forest (Arcola Theatre), Romeo and Juliet (Papergang Theatre), Being Norwegian (The Albany), The Plot and Peace Code (Soho Theatre). Her credits as assistant director include Tao of Glass (Manchester International Festival).
Part of Japan-UK Season of Culture 2019-2020
Created by Kumiko Mendl and Kazuko Hohki
Launched at The Museum of London
January 2020 – June 2021
Tsunagu/Connect is an 18 month project that will culminate in a live immersive performance with a
virtual reality installation and exhibition that aims to go beyond the stereotypes of the Japanese woman as a submissive, stay-at-home, model wife and mother with a mission to humanise this often misunderstood and hidden community.
With the help of volunteer interviewers, Kumiko Mendl and performance artist Kazuko Hohki will gather oral histories of Japanese women living in the UK since 1945, to document these brave and pioneering women who risked family shame and security to travel halfway across the globe to settle in a country where they barely knew anyone and were not always welcome. These interviews will culminate in a live immersive production, virtual reality installation and exhibition in 2021 guided and compered by Kazuko Hohki.
Tsunagu/Connect is a project led by Yellow Earth Theatre and held in partnership with the Japan Society and the Museum of London. It is part of the Japan-UK Season of Culture 2019-2020.
Kazuko Hohki is a director and performer originally from Japan. Her previous theatre credits include Toothless, The Shining Princess, My Husband is a Spaceman (UK/International tour), Evidence for the Existence of Borrowers, The Great Escape – A Borrowers Tale, You Only Live Once (But Die Once) (Battersea Arts Centre), Kazuko Hohki’s Wuthering Heights (UK tour) and Tottenham Travesties (Birmingham Repertory Theatre). She also founded the Japanese alternative pop group Frank Chickens.
Kumiko Mendl is the co-founder and Artistic Director of Yellow Earth Theatre, co-founder and co-Artistic Director of Japanese children’s theatre A Thousand Cranes and Artistic Associate at artsdepot. Her credits for Yellow Earth Theatre include Dim Sum Nights, Yeh Shen and Why the Lion Danced (UK tour). Her credits as a co-director include the critically acclaimed Flight Paths (UK tour), The Last Days of Limehouse (Limehouse Town Hall) and Rashomon (Riverside Studios). She helped set up the first BEA acting summer school: Yellow Earth Academy in 2010 to encourage more BEA’s into the industry.
Arcola Theatre and Yellow Earth
in association with The North Wall presents
By Kyo Choi
Directed by Ria Parry
18 November – 19 December 2020
Seoul, 1991. Priyanka is beginning the UN investigation into the ‘comfort women’ of the Second World War, and the subsequent political cover-up. Yuna is about to learn the family secret her father has shamefully concealed for her whole life. And Sun-Hee, having kept her silence for over forty years, is on the brink of speaking out – an act which will ignite a fire that could spread across the world.
Three women’s lives intertwine as they campaign for the truth against those who would rather it remain forgotten.
Based on true accounts by survivors, The Apology is a play about the meaning of justice in the face of atrocity.
Kyo Choi is a writer. Having begun her career as the Far East Correspondent for Reuters, in 2016 she turned to writing. Her previous playwriting credits include Empowered (Arcola Theatre), she has also written a novel titled The Love Hotel.
Ria Parry is the co-Director of The North Wall, Oxford. Her previous theatre credits include The Island Nation (Arcola Theatre), Jane Wenham: The Witch of Walkern (UK tour), Albion (Bush Theatre), Bike, On Golden Pond (Salisbury Playhouse), The Winter’s Tale re-imagined (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), Dr Korczak’s Example (Unicorn Theatre), Tales of Winter (Southbank Centre) and Fen (Finborough Theatre).