Writer Yifan Wu talks to us about their new play Choking Game, playing in the Bloomsbury Festival 2022.
Tell us a bit about your show
Choking Game is a play that sets on a fictional Asian island, talking about the feeling of guilt, suffocation and more in life. Everyone in this story is somehow getting choked by others, metaphorically and literally. I also tried to question the western-centric presentation of climate change and performative tokenism in marine wildlife conservation, as well as the impact of capitalism on indigenous lives and local ecology.
Tell us a bit about you and the company
I’m Yifan, the writer, though most of the time I’m either translating fanfiction or building Lego. Our creative team is an East-Asian company, including graduates from LAMDA, RCSSD, RADA and East 15. The director, Tianxin, is also an East 15 alumna and interested in adaptation and new writing.
What’s your favourite moment in the performance?
It’s right in the middle of the show when the three characters on stage are sharing the breathless/choking moment in their own stories and the timelines just cross. There is tragic death, the attempt to save and toxic love in this scene at the same time via the action of suffocation.
What do you want your audience to take away from it?
The turtles are just cute. The planet has been through a lot of things worse than human beings and survived, and it will keep going on. Species come and go. Humans are just so self-important as one of them. Is it a bit arrogant to say we’re going to save the animals from extinction when human is also a kind of animals? Yet we don’t even know how to be nice to each other. Not only to other animals, but humans are also condescending to their own kind. With all sorts of imaginable or unimaginable ways to separate people into different groups, as typical as gender, race and class, the relationships between these groups are similar to that between humans and other species. The upper class or colonizers exploit the lower class and local people, just like humans exploit the animals, and the way the superior ones protect and educate the inferior ones is nothing different from the way human beings treat the animals. We’re choking everything, the animals, the sea, the earth, as well as other people and ourselves.
What does taking part in the Bloomsbury Festival mean to you?
It’s a great opportunity for me and the company to be a part of the festival. Bloomsbury Festival selected my writing last year and has been supporting me with the project since then. The New Wave program is a wonderful platform for emerging writers and theatre companies to be seen.
Is there anything else you’re looking forward to seeing in the festival?
I’m really interested in other writers’ work. Last year we had a scene presentation as a part of Bloomsbury festival 2021 and I was fascinated by other writers’ stories even though that was just one scene or two. Now it has been a year and we have all finished our scripts thus I’m looking forward to the chance to see it on stage.
Choking Game is presented on 13-16 October at Dr Williams’s Library, London, as part of the Bloomsbury Festival 2022 bloomsburyfestival.org.uk/events/new-wave-choking-game