Forgotten - Arcola Theatre
Wednesday 10 October 2018
Drama - Off-West End - Shows
Inspired by the little-known story of the 140,000 strong Chinese Labour Corps, who worked for Britain and the Allies behind the front lines during WWI, Forgotten premieres at the Arcola Theatre from 23 October.
Image: Arcola Theatre
Theatre has a knack of finding topics to present which either haven't had the airing they deserve, or have never had any airing at all in terms of either a dramatic production or much in the way of political, social or historical commentary.
Moongate and Yellow Earth seem to have discovered one of those topics.
One hundred years after the end of World War I, or the Great War, a number of theatrical productions are marking the centenary.
Most of them will probably not be revealing much in the way that is particularly new about that terrible but well-documented conflict.
Except, perhaps, for Forgotten, which is due to get its premiere at Dalston's Arcola Theatre from 23 October to 17 November.
Forgotten gets its inspiration from an organisation that most of us have probably never heard of - the Chinese Labour Corps.
At the height of the Great War, 140,000 Chinese men left behind everything they knew and loved in their homeland, and travelled half way around the world to work for Britain and the Allies behind the front lines of Europe.
Their poignant story remains largely untold, written out of history almost, even though the corps' involvement in the conflict was considered potentially pivotal to its outcome.
Produced by Moongate and Yellow Earth, Forgotten is written by Daniel York Loh and directed by Kim Pearce, and will get a short preview run at the Theatre Royal Plymouth from 17 to 20 October, before moving on to the Arcola in London.
Here's the trailer ...
Playwright Daniel York Loh said ...
"The story of the Chinese Labour Corps is such a powerful chapter in Chinese and European relations that I was amazed it had been literally written out of the history books on all sides.
There is a tendency to objectify, anonymise and dehumanise East Asian people so I wanted to bring to life the hopes, fears, dreams, stories and songs of the Chinese Labour Corps.
To take the audience on the extraordinary journey that these men took - across oceans, continents, and cultures that arguably changed the course of history."
And director, Kim Pearce, commented ...
"Daniel and I first met following The Orphan of Zhao casting controversy at the RSC to discuss appropriately casting the 20th century Chinese classic plays that I wanted to produce.
This was the beginning of a journey through which I have forged invaluable partnerships with actors, playwrights, creatives and producers from the British East Asian artistic community, leading to many exciting new projects.
I am thrilled to at last direct one of Daniel's plays and am looking forward to further exploring this incredible unknown story with the cast and companies."
'The foreign devils will be entranced by our performance and line our path back to Shandong with gold and cherry blossoms …'
1917. Shandong Province, Northern China.
Times are tough in Horse Shoe Village.
Old Six and Second Moon struggle to earn enough to feed their young child.
Big Dog struggles to overcome opium addiction and for Eunuch Lin, the fall of the Imperial Dynasty couldn't have come at a worse time.
Could a fierce war far away in Europe present an opportunity to put both themselves and their struggling nation on its feet?
Rebecca Boey - Second Moon/Marie
Jon Chew - Headman Zhang/Wild Swan
Zachary Hing - Eunuch Lin/Follower of Christ
Camille Mallet De Chauny - Big Dog
Michael Phong Le - Old Six
Leo Wan - The Professor
Author: Daniel York Loh
Composer: Liz Chi Yen Liew
Director: Kim Pearce
Designer: Emma Bailey
Lighting: Jessica Hung Han Yun
Sound: Luke Swaffield
Movement: Quang Kien Van
Production: Zhen Lin for Moongate and Kumiko Mendl for Yellow Earth
From: Tuesday 23 October 2018
Closes: Saturday 17 November 2018
Previews: £20, £16, £15
Standard: £22, £20, £15
ActDrop full listing for Forgotten
The Chinese Labur Corps - Wikipedia