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Play aims to highlight racism against Britain's East Asian community

By BO LEUNG in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-05-27 09:10

Writers, actors, and directors in the United Kingdom of East Asian and Southeast Asian heritage have come together to host a series of plays and monologues that highlight issues including racism directed at the community during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

WeRNotVirus, which will be broadcast on the video platform Zoom on June 13 and 14, will feature monologues, poetry, song, dance, and film that explore topics including race, identity, representation, perspective, and economics.

The two-day online festival aims to raise awareness of hate crimes committed against people from the East Asian and Southeast Asian communities.

The production is supported by the Arts Council Emergency Fund. Its 10 newly commissioned stories will be directed by Young Vic New Genesis fellow Jennifer Tang and by Anthony Lau.

The project came about following reports that hate crimes against the Chinese community in the UK had increased sharply since the pandemic began.

The 267 offenses reported in the first three months of 2020 was triple the normal for that time of year. There were 375 such incidents during the whole of 2019, and 360 in 2018.

The festival's producer, Jennifer Lim, cofounder of Moongate Productions alongside Daniel York Loh, said it is "vital we are given a platform to amplify our voice".

"Thanks to the Arts Council, who have recognized the pressing need to respond strongly and creatively, WeRNotVirus aims to kick-start a movement which helps to break down the mystery and fear by putting our stories out there and making our voices heard," Lim said.

York Loh said the East Asian community has not had a strong media presence in the UK and has been "very easy to dehumanize", prompting his fear that racism and hate crime will get worse.

He said the production is "an artistic statement" highlighting a diverse British East Asian, Southeast Asian community from various backgrounds standing up against racism and stigmatization.

"We stand together on this and we are very much present and very much part of British life and won't put up with racism," York Loh said.

Performances and works by York Loh, Will Harris, Amber Hsu, Oladipo Agboluaje, and Lucy Sheen will be included, and a panel discussion with leading academics, journalists, and people in the creative industry will be held at the end of the performances each day.

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