Grace Feng Fang Juan’s web series Girl, Interpreted drew on her experiences as a Mandarin interpreter, and is available on YouTube. With 100 Days, she was again inspired by personal experience as she makes the transition to writing for the stage. She is looking forward to hearing how it reads with an audience as part of this weekend’s Cybec Electric play readings.
Can you tell us about your Cybec Electric play, 100 Days?
I always wanted to tell stories that explore family and kinship, and a sense of displacement and belonging in a small and personal world. 100 Days is a story about how the main character, Wenwen – who is in her 30s – suddenly has to cope with the fact that her adult life has been interrupted by her parents’ visit from overseas. There’s love, caring and cruelty in everyday language. It’s also about reverse-parenting, inter-generational conflicts manifested by class, ideology differences and incompatible food choices.
The process of Wenwen introducing her parents to a new way of living also evokes something new in Wenwen herself, which prompts her to re-examine her diaspora life as a woman of colour in Australia.
Why this play and why now?
100 Days was inspired by my experience living with my parents during COVID. They came and visited me last year and have been stuck here in Melbourne ever since. So I am in a way just writing what is happening to me now.
‘I am equally troubled and amazed by this nowness ...’
I am equally troubled and amazed by this nowness. Without COVID, I probably would never have had the opportunity to live my parents within such close proximity as an adult. It’s painful at times, but most of the time I feel incredibly lucky that we get to spend all this challenging time together, not apart, and we all know it wouldn’t be possible again. I really would like to capture this very poignant fleetingness.
What made you start writing for the stage?
I haven’t written anything for the stage prior to 100 Days but I am always very keen on exploring possibilities and ways of storytelling on the stage.
Can you tell us more about your writing process, where you write and why
I would often start with a scene I feel very connected to or something I have a strong urge to capture. I feel like I am an impulse writer who tends to agonise a lot during writing. I wish I could train myself in a way that I could write anywhere, anytime!
How do you know when an idea should turn into a play?
I still don’t. I don’t think I can say that before it actually gets made into a play!
What excites you most about your participation in Cybec Electric 2021?
As I mentioned before, I’ve never written anything for the stage before 100 Days, so Cybec Electric has certainly been very exciting in that regard. There is an element of the unknown and newness to me. I’m eagerly looking forward to hearing how it reads and how people will respond to it.
The Cybec Electric play readings run from 19 to 20 February 2021 at Southbank Theatre.
Cybec Electric forms part of MTC’s ongoing commitment to the development of new Australian writing, and is only possible due to the support of the late Dr Roger Riordan AM and The Cybec Foundation.
Published on 16 February 2021