11 questions with the cast of Wild Swans: Victor Chi

Victor Chi as Heng

Working on Wild Swans has allowed me to revisit my family history. It’s quite a story many others share.

Tell us about your character
Heng is a warrior of the revolution.

Favourite word?
Free.

Proudest moment?
Booking Wild Swans! Duh.

If 28 hour days existed, what would you do with the extra four hours?
Probably waste more hours being a night owl.

Favourite holiday?
Any holiday where you can eat a lot.

Weirdest quirk?
I mentally trace lines around the contours of objects around me.

Favourite play?
The Waiting Room by Lisa Loomer. My first play in university. Made me want to be an actor as a profession.

If you had one super power, what would it be?
Persuading people at will everything I say is ‘true’.

Do you have any regrets?
Never!

Favourite midnight snack?
Roast pig in London’s Chinatown.

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

11 questions with the cast of Wild Swans: Jennifer Lim

Jennifer Lim as Jia

I’m Chinese and have always had a strong identity about it. Being in Wild Swans has made me more aware of the history of Mainland China and what propelled my forefathers to leave China in the first place and be part of the great Chinese diaspora.

Tell us about your character
Jia – a feisty peasant married to Bolin.

Favourite word?
Conundrum.

Proudest moment?
When I did my first freestanding headstand in yoga class.

If you could have a room full of any one thing, what would it be?
DVDs of films!

If 28 hour days existed, what would you do with the extra four hours?
Watch films, do yoga and listen to music.

Favourite holiday?
It’s a toss up between Inner Mongolia and Tasmania.

Weirdest quirk?
I have a few strange ones like ‘touching wood’ and fretting if no real wood is nearby.

Favourite play?
The Seagull by Anton Chekhov.

If you had one super power, what would it be?
To be invisible when I feel like it.

Do you have any regrets?
I don’t believe in regrets.

Favourite midnight snack?
Pizza.

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.

11 questions with the cast of Wild Swans: Celeste Den

Celeste Den as Comrade Ting

Working on Wild Swans has allowed me to explore the opposite perspective of the Chinese Civil War. Growing up with Nationalist grandparents, I never questioned the validity of their opinion and experience, so it was eye-opening to immerse myself in the history of the other side.

Tell us about your character
Ting devotes her entire life to finding a place of value for herself. All she wants is to be important and loved.

Favourite word?
Nuance.

Proudest moment?
When I really go after something and give it my all – to have done the very best that I can do.

If you could have a room full of any one thing, what would it be?
Puppies.

If 28 hour days existed, what would you do with the extra four hours?
Spend an extra few minutes chatting with people throughout the day i.e. the barista, the mail clerk, the security guard at Tesco, the person behind me in a queue… also to catch-up regularly with family and friends.

Favourite holiday?
Halloween. Everyone plays.

Weirdest quirk?
I fold candy or gum wrappers until it’s as thin as possible and then tie it in a knot. My only unconscious OCD habit.

Favourite play?
Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

If you had one super power, what would it be?
Flying.

Do you have any regrets?
Buy me dinner and drinks and I’ll tell you…

Favourite midnight snack?
Chocolate anything.

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.

A once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will never forget

Members of the community chorus

I first heard about Wild Swans back in December, reading the call for chorus auditions through the Young Vic e-newsletter. Despite some initial reservations about time commmitment required and nervousness regarding my own notable lack of performance skills, I thought ‘Why not!?’ It sounded like a really unique opportunity, especially as they were calling for two large choruses to support the cast. I am also a fan of Young Vic already and knowing their reputation for new writing and creative productions, I was curious about how they would adapt Jung Chang’s epic bestseller for the stage.

Now, with one week left to go before the show ends on 13 May, and my time on the stage finished as part of chorus A, I look back on my experience and feel truly happy and grateful that I have been part of something so incredible, that has brought so many people together and touched our lives in ways we couldn’t have expected back in January, when we first auditioned.

For instance, after telling them that I was part of the chorus, the Chinese Youth Club that made a huge difference in my life growing up – the Pagoda Arts Group from Liverpool – came to see a weekend matinee performance of Wild Swans, bringing fifteen young people down to London from Liverpool. I know seeing the production will have had a positive impact on their lives, as a still relatively marginalised community growing up in a still relatively poor part of the UK, with less opportunity to access the arts. The visit gave them a chance to see for the first time, a critically-acclaimed play at a major London theatre, featuring an all Asian cast, about a history that has probably affected their own families. Following the visit, the organisers fed back that there were tears, and that the young people were blown away by the production.

It makes me hugely proud to have been involved in Wild Swans with the chorus, wonderful cast, talented writing and creative team and hardworking backstage crew. Not only has the production received deserved praise across the board from critics and the public alike (it sold out quickly and really has been the hot ticket for London theatre this month!), it has also made a difference to the Chinese community here in the UK. Furthermore, the production has made me delve into my own heritage and discover some of the consequences that the Mao era had on my own family.

Now that the Wild Swans journey is ending, I will take away with me memories of backstage banter, market scene hilarity, endless practice of songs and placard-waving, and a fabulous karaoke night finale. I’ve met some incredibly talented people and most importantly made some great friends. Wild Swans has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will never forget. Thank you Young Vic!

Sharon Chou, member of the community chorus of Wild Swans

11 questions with the cast of Wild Swans: Joanne Fong

Next up in this series is Joanne Fong, who plays Huifen in Wild Swans. Jo is also the Movement Associate for Wild Swans. She was the winner of Best Female Award by the Critic’s Dance Circle for the role of Natasya Flippovna in Elegy and is an Associate Choreographer for Welsh Dance Projects, Coreo Cymru. She has performed with Rambert Dance Company, Rosas, DV8 Physical Theatre, National Dance Company Wales and many more other dance and theatre companies.

*****

Tell us about your character
I play Huifen, an oppressed peasant. Powerless. Hard-working Chinese.

Now I understand why my Dad gets worried when I say I want to go into farming. Farming equals peasant.

Favourite word?
Compost.

Proudest moment?
Growing so many courgettes I had to pickle them.

If you could have a room full of any one thing, what would it be?
Steam / heat – sauna.

If 28 hour days existed, what would you do with the extra four hours?
I would probably sleep to try and catch up.

Favourite holiday?
W. Wales coast.

Weirdest quirk?
Laughing inappropriately.

Favourite play?
Entitled by Quarantine Theatre.

If you had one super power, what would it be?
To have as much energy as when I was 25. I was a superhero.

Favourite midnight snack?
I like crunchy things.

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.

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