Proudly Asian Theatre Panel

What makes a good story? How do you grip an audience? And what do you do when faced with the daunting abyss of a blank page? 

Photos by John Rata

Proudly Asian Theatre has always existed to fill a void. When budding actors James Roque and Chye-Ling Huang graduated in 2013 from Auckland’s competitive drama school Unitec, they were faced with a specific problem — where was the space, role models or pathway for Asian actors in New Zealand? Taking the future into their own hands, the pair created Pretty Asian Theatre, a name which reflected the in-between invalidation of Asianess they felt as diaspora Asian Kiwis. Years on, the renamed Proudly Asian Theatre (PAT) engine works to create spaces that its founders were seeking as fresh graduates, including mentorship schemes, professional productions and internships. 

In response to the lack of Asian stories in the mainstream, PAT’s provocation for 2019 was to encourage Asian writers to create a slew of new plays. Submitting little more than a page outline, 10 writers were given mentors to create a play — with the exciting deadline of a live playreading to present their works to the public for the first time. To open the third year of this monthly playreading event, ‘Fresh off the Page’, PAT invited a panel of nine women of colour writers across theatre and film to talk about making gold from a blank slate, and the nuances of writing from a marginalised perspective. The lineup consisted of Kathryn Burnett, Shuchi Kothari, Roseanne Liang, Mingjian Cui, Renee Liang, Alice Canton, Chye-Ling Huang with facilitator Nathan Joe and host Marianne Infante.

For those who have never had formal training in writing, and even for those who have but are finding their feet in the real world, the wisdom shared was invaluable.

Read the summaries below: