Making Waves – Under The Umbrella Joins The Call To Improve British East Asian Representation.
Say the word “Asian” in the UK and chances are most people will assume you mean South Asian. While the situation is reversed in the US, here in Britain, this default assumption means that people and stories of East Asian origin are often sidelined or forgotten in mainstream arts, culture and media.
Even in today’s inescapably globalised world, where British East Asians make up more of the population than ever, they’re still hugely under-represented on stage and screen. And where characters of East Asian heritage do exist, they’re usually marginalised or tokenistic, bit-players in someone else’s story, and as often as not, offensively stereotyped.
All that is beginning to change, however, thanks to a wave of British East Asian artists who are challenging the status quo and making their voices heard. Among them are the cast and creatives of Amy Ng’s Under the Umbrella, which makes its world premiere at the Belgrade Theatre 2-16 March 2019.
Drawing on the real-life experiences of young women in the 21st century, Under the Umbrella tells the story of Wei, a member of Coventry’s growing Chinese student community. As Wei approaches her 27th birthday, her mother and grandmother begin to worry that she will be labelled shengnu or “leftover woman” – a derogatory term for single women considered past their prime. This prompts them to pay a visit to the marriage market, where parents go to advertise the dating profiles of their adult children.
While leftover women and marriage markets might be uniquely Chinese phenomena, what’s most exciting about this piece of work is that the challenges Wei faces are ones to which all of us can relate: juggling commitments to our family, work and friends; coping with uncertainty about our careers and direction in life; and the struggle women around the world share to be treated with human dignity and respect, rather than looked on merely as commodities.
Under the Umbrella makes its world premiere at the Belgrade Theatre Coventry 2-16 March 2019. Tickets are available to book now by calling the box office on 024 7655 3055 or visiting www.belgrade.co.uk where prices are even cheaper.