Inspired by Crazy Rich Asians, I AM RACHEL CHU is an act of literary anarchism - watch and listen as they rewrite, rework and revitalise the best-selling book and box-office success with personal histories, superimposing themselves over its so-called relatable protagonist.
We talked to co-creator Nathan Joe about the piece:
WHAT IS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND I AM RACHEL CHU?
Streams and streams of Facebook posts, conversations with friends, conversations with colleagues. There were a few months before and after the movie (Crazy Rich Asians) was released where it filtered into so much of my social media and pop culture consciousness.
WHAT DO YOU THINK THE OVERALL IMPACT OF CRAZY RICH ASIANS HAS BEEN ON THE ASIAN COMMUNITY?
Any representation is good representation, right? It's not really that simple, but when it's such a concentrated amount there's bound to be a lot of positive effects. There's so much power in seeing yourself reflected in pop culture. Something interesting to note is that the film basically bombed at the Chinese box office. So it's effect on the Asian community is really specific to a Western-centric or Hollywood-centric perspective. The film isn't saying anything new to the whole Asian diaspora but it is speaking to people in certain places who don't often see themselves in the media. That is its strongest offer, ultimately.
WHAT CONVERSATIONS WOULD YOU LIKE TO START WITH THIS PIECE?
What is it we ask of our art. When we say something represents us - what do we mean by that? Are we only talking about representation on a level that is skin deep? And if representation ran deeper than skin deep, what would it look like? Would that even be any fun?
WHO WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE COMING TO THIS SHOW?
People like ourselves - who actually all genuinely like the film and or book to a certain degree - but have our own reservations about what representation means and reinforcing hollywood narratives and tropes. People who are really familiar with the book - who want to see what weird tangents we've taken it on. People fascinated by postmodernism.
WHAT KIND OF EXPERIENCE CAN THE AUDIENCE EXPECT?
Not a straight rewrite or reworking of Crazy Rich Asians. We've taken the loose structure of the novel and the film, mixed them together, found the bits - even if they seem inconsequential in the original. Like zooming in on a pixel and blowing it up. And then shoving our stories into the original.
I AM RACHEL CHU is part of Auckland Fringe 2019 and on at Basement Theatre from 19 - 23 Feb. Book tickets or find out more here.