11 questions with the cast of Wild Swans: Oliver Biles

Next up in this series is Oliver Biles, who plays Weimin in Wild Swans.


Working on Wild Swans has been an absolute pleasure. It is the first time I have worked on a new writing piece and I found it extremely refreshing to have such an input into the production and even my own character (which was created during the rehearsal process!) It has also been a real eye-opener for me in terms of learning more about my Chinese heritage. I can finally speak some Mandarin phrases!

Tell us about your character
Weimin is a brain washed youth. Chairman Mao has made him believe that everything ‘Old’ should be destroyed and that everyone should be converted to being ‘Red’ – the new communist China. Weimin’s passion for the cause is what can be so frightening as he blindly obeys orders from a book and a person that he has never actually met.

Favourite word?
Apparently I say the word ‘jokes’ quite often but this came from an American friend I met in Boston and apparently they never use that word there to describe something!

Proudest moment?
When I was a compere for Sainsbury’s Annual Conference in 2007. I was 17 and was performing in front of around 4,500 people. At the end of the weekend I was welcomed back on stage by the CEO, they raised the house lights and I received a standing ovation from the audience. I will never forget that moment.

If you could have a room full of any one thing, what would it be?
Technology & the Internet. Give me my Macbook, iMac, TV and sound system and I wouldn’t need much else!

If 28 hour days existed, what would you do with the extra four hours?
Probably procrastinate like crazy. A job that should take me about thirty minutes ends up taking me 4 hours. But seeing as quitting procrastination was one of my New Years resolutions it would have to be something more productive like writing a script.

Favourite holiday?
It actually has to be my trip to Boston/Las Vegas/New York. We took Wild Swans to Boston for a month before opening at the Young Vic. I met some amazing people out in America and decided to use my time effectively and went on to Vegas and New York after the run. I have always wanted to go to Vegas as I am a keen poker player. In three days I managed to win enough money to buy myself a little car and pay for my entire trip! I’m already saving to get back out there!

Weirdest quirk?
I don’t think this is particularly weird but my friends do. I have to have around two hours from when my alarm goes off to leaving the house for work. It takes me a while to do things and I sit in bed for at least 45 minutes checking my phone. Is this weird? There must be other people out there that do the same!

Favourite play?
I have so many, but I have always been a big fan of Pillowman by Martin McDonagh.

If you had one super power, what would it be?
The ability to create more super powers for myself!

Do you have any regrets?
I try to live life without having regrets – keep calm and carry on.

Favourite midnight snack?
Mr Kipling’s Angel Slices. If you haven’t tried them I highly recommend it!

Wild Swans (part of World Stages London) plays at the Young Vic until 13 May. Tickets are sold out but we do get returns… call 020 7922 2922 on the day for availability.

Wild Swans reviews

The reviews are in for Wild Swans!

Read what the press thought of the production:

‘Jaw dropping visuals… a feast for the eyes… a triumph.’
Daily Express

‘I can’t tell you how enormously refreshing – and vitally important – this evening is… superb.’
The Daily Telegraph

‘The genius of Miriam Buether’s design… the stunning video work of Wang GongXin… the astonishing visuals will stay in the memory.’ 
The Guardian

‘Constantly inventive and visually stunning.’ 
Sunday Express

‘Alexandra Wood’s adaptation, vividly directed by Sacha Wares, captures [the book’s] indomitable personal spirit… Unforgettable.’ 
Time Out

‘Powerful, gripping… stunningly well staged.’
The Independent

What’s On Stage 

‘I have just seen the best stage design of the year.’
The Observer

We always like to hear your thoughts – you can send in your reviews to us and we post a selection our website and our blog, read more here and send your reviews to reviews@youngvic.org 

11 questions with the cast of Wild Swans: Orion Lee

Orion Lee (Shou Yu) with Isabelle Wang (Er-Hong as child)

First up in our Wild Swans cast series is Orion Lee, who plays Shou Yu, the male lead of the show.

Tell us about your character and about working on Wild Swans.
I play Shou Yu, an idealist. Working on Wild Swans has made me feel more in touch with my heritage. It is also very satisfying to hear of people’s personal connections to the play.

Favourite word?
‘Pachoinka’ as used by Ramin Gray of ATC.

Proudest moment?
Making people laugh at a play reading at LAMDA.

If you could have a room full of any one thing, what would it be?
£100 bills because then I could get anything else. Failing that… cakes.

If 28 hour days existed, what would you do with the extra four hours?
Play more computer games and meet more people. Antithetical, I know.

Favourite holiday?
Seeing my family.

Weirdest quirk?
Probably for others to say, but people tell me I’m always eating when they see me.

Favourite play?
All My Sons by Arthur Miller as done by Suchet and Wanamaker.

If you had one super power, what would it be?
To read minds.

Do you have any regrets?
Not so much regrets as a lack of surety that I’ve made the right choice.

Favourite midnight snack?
KFC – one thigh portion.

Wild Swans (part of World Stages London) plays at the Young Vic until 13 May. Tickets are sold out but we do get returns… call 020 7922 2922 on the day for availability.

Young Vic helps to give BABEL its voice

Groups from the Young Vic are working together with BAC, Lyric Hammersmith, Theatre Royal Stratford East and WildWorks to give a voice to BABEL – the epic and immersive theatrical experience that will fill Caledonian Park in Islington in May (8-20).

A re-working of the BABEL story, one of the key themes of the show is: with so many different backgrounds and languages in London, how can we communicate with each other? The cast of 300 have been looking at using music and song as a way to universally talk to people, finding a voice that anyone from anywhere where in the world can understand.

Have a listen to the harmony chorus clip here to hear the sound that runs through the heart of BABEL.

BABEL is part of World Stages London – a once-in-a-lifetime celebration through theatre of the exhilarating cosmopolitan diversity of London’s people and culture.

Win a trip to Paris to see The Suit

The Young Vic, Time Out and World Stages London are hosting a competition to win a trip to Paris to see The Suit before it comes to London!

Winners will receive round-trip Eurostar tickets for two, a two-night stay in the luxurious 4 star Champs Elysees McMahon hotel, and tickets to see the world premiere of The Suit at the celebrated Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord.  A new musical adapted and directed by Peter Brook and Marie-Hélène Estienne, The Suit is based on Can Themba’s heartbreakingly beautiful South African story of lust, betrayal and retribution.

The competition is free to enter and closes 1 April – enter here now for your chance to win!

Getting involved in Wild Swans

Wild Swans in rehearsal

It was by pure chance that I came across the casting call for the community chorus for Wild Swans. I happened to be in Chinatown one afternoon to do a bit of grocery shopping with my friend and if I hadn’t dropped by a snack store out of curiosity and bought something, I wouldn’t have seen the flyers sitting by the counter, calling out to be picked up and looked at. I took up the opportunity to experience what being part of a professional production would be like, being a bit of a theatre enthusiast myself; I’d never seen a real team at work, and to perform at the Young Vic, even if part of a chorus, seemed like something that would never otherwise have appeared possible. Wild Swans presents the dramatic political history of China on an English stage and is definitely something that is fresh, exciting, and unconventional. The behind-the-scenes experience I have had so far has been amazing, and even though it’s only been two weeks so far, my understanding of how professional theatre works has already grown exponentially. I cannot wait for the entire production to come together and for the audience to experience its power.

Ian, a community chorus member of Wild Swans

Wild Swans – Cast Announced!

Harry Potter star Katie Leung will play the character based on Jung Chang in the first ever stage version of her astonishing true story Wild Swans.

Katie rose to fame as Harry Potter’s girlfriend Cho Chang in the much-loved film series.

Katie commented ‘It is a great honour to be involved in such an extraordinary project and especially to be playing the role based on Jung Chang. I look forward to performing this truly inspirational story on stage.’

Katie joins a cast of British and American actors that includes Oliver Biles, Eric Chan, Annie Chang, Ka-Ling Cheung, Victor Chi, Celeste Den, Joanne Fong, Jon Kit Lee, Orion Lee, Jennifer Lim, Les Mau, Ron Nakahara, Zenghui Qiu and Julyana Soelistyo.

Jung Chang commented ‘This production means a lot to me. To see Wild Swans on stage – transferred into another art form – will be fantastic. It feels great to know that my book is in such good hands.’

Read the announcement news in the Evening Standard piece Why I nearly kissed goodbye to acting, by Harry Potter girl Katie Leung >>

Click here to learn more about the production and to get yourself tickets from £10. Wild Swans is part of World Stages London.