Alissa AJY on Love Songs
Updated: Jan 21, 2018
How our Artistic Director chose not to be involved with #metoo and instead created Love Songs, a work-in-progress show part of The Shape of Things to Come at Camden People's Theatre...
Hi there. My name is Alissa and my one-woman-show Love Songs is due to debut at Camden People’s Theatre next week. It’s a show that is not only incredibly personal, but also very relevant amidst current allegations in the film and theatre industry. It is a show about sexual assault – and I have found navigating that problematic.
At first I didn’t want to write this post because I didn’t want my ‘passion project’ to simply be reduced to a show about sexual assault. If you look at the blurb, you might be surprised to see that there is no mention of this at all (apart from a trigger warning). That’s because, like most theatre, Love Songs isn’t about one thing.
It’s about a lot of things:
The hypersexualisation of East Asian women
Putting a Chinese voice on stage and giving an underrepresented minority a chance to see themselves reflected back
Romanticising relationships and coming of age
The need to rethink how we educate our children
Another reason I held back writing this post was because I was worried about provoking mixed reactions. I’m often met with shock when I tell people “it’s a show about sexual assault…but it’s a comedy!”
To clarify – in Love Songs, jokes are made about everything BUT that experience. However, I stand by my decision that humour is necessary to tell the story. Humour is how we relate to each other as fellow human-beings. Through laughing we can heal wounds, pull through dark times, demonstrate our resilience and ultimately celebrate life. Being able to stand on stage and smile despite everything is my version of sticking the ultimate middle finger up to the patriarchy.
There are those who are still scared to add their voice to #metoo, and then there are those who just don’t want to. I see myself falling into the latter category.
Victims of sexual assault not only have to ‘prove’ their experiences in court and justify why they’re “speaking out after all this time” to complete strangers on Twitter – they have the opinions of friends and family to navigate too. Whilst these come from a place of love, telling someone how and when they should work through their trauma is not always helpful. Everybody is different, and I would rather process things in private, at my own pace.
The above might sound a tad hypocritical as what you’re reading right now is very public material. But what’s important to note here is that (1) I view the experience in the abstract, and (2) I always talk about IT as a distant thing. This is why cross-disciplinary performance is the perfect way to tell such stories. I love it because it allows the use of metaphor and movement to express things you can’t or would rather not say so literally.
So to conclude…
Love Songs doesn’t make a joke of sexual assault – comedy is truly an empowering medium to use. Don’t judge my decision to deal with my own experiences that way. I could go on, but I’d rather not. All the rest of what I want to say is in the show.