Saturday, March 16, 2013

Walk the Chinatown talk

Auckanders are invited to delve deeper into the section of Dominion Rd affectionately known as Chinatown with a theatre project on this weekend. Walk Eat Talk was developed by director Yuri Kinugawa and Yee Yang ‘Square' Lee as a part of the AUT Dominion Road Stories, a series of neighbourhood theatre events which kicks off on March 16. As part of the unique show audiences of up to 12 people will be invited to take a guided walk through the side streets, alleyways and businesses that comprise the strip's most Asian-centric segment. The 40-minute guided walk starts at the Balmoral and Dominion roads intersection where showgoers are provided with a set of headphones. Participants will follow instructions provided to them either by audio narration or by chance encounters with performers from The Oryza Foundation, an Asian arts company founded by Mr Lee. "As part of directing the show, Yuri has developed some performances littered across the different venues. So some of them are street performances and some of them are actually performances in a business or a shop," he says. The adventure culminates with a shared meal. The idea is to allow audiences to experience the community from a different perspective, Mr Lee says. "Part of the concept of the show is to provoke people to go into new places and experience new things, so it's very much about discovery." Mr Lee and Ms Kinugawa spent weeks interviewing business owners and people from the community to gather material for the show. They say the project is a rare chance for people to explore the area properly. "Lots of the places you can't go into if you can't speak Chinese, so this is a great opportunity to visit. Some parts are very unusual - you will never find them otherwise," Ms Kinugawa says. The director says it was a challenge distancing Walk Eat Talk from anything that felt like a city tour. "It's not sightseeing as an outsider looking at another culture, like a zoo. Hopefully the audience will find themselves and their own story through the journey," she says. There are surprising elements incorporated into the show, but Mr Lee says the name sums it up nicely. "It's literally come for a walk, have some food and hopefully you talk about it. That's the bare essence of the project." AUT Dominion Road Stories is presented by Auckland Theatre Company in Association with the Auckland Arts Festival. Visit autdominionroad for more information and for tickets. - © Fairfax NZ News DANIELLE STREET Last updated 05:00 13/03/2013 STORYTELLERS: Yee Yang ‘Square’ Lee, left, and Yuri Kinugawa have developed Walk Eat Talk, a performance to entice people to explore Dominion Rd’s ‘Chinatown’

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