From the glittering high-rise condos to the desperate streets of Vancouver, powerful stories told by women reveal the fraying social fabric among the wealthy and hangers-on in the city’s Asian Canadian community.
Lady Sunrise introduces us to six women who are risking everything, all motivated by the need for more money and the freedom it could buy, whether it’s the allure of expensive items and real estate to substitute what’s been lost or the safety of not being in abusive debt to anyone else just to survive. This heartbreaking examination of the effects of today’s hyper-consumerist society will challenge perspectives of strength and power, exposing painfully raw consequences.
About the authors
Marjorie Chan was born in Toronto to Hong Kong immigrants who arrived in the late ’60s. As a theatre and opera artist, she works variously as a writer, director, and dramaturge, as well as in the intersection of these forms and roles. Her work has been seen and performed in the United States, Scotland, Hong Kong, Russia, and across Canada. Her full-length works as a playwright include the plays The Madness of the Square, a nanking winter, Tails From the City, as well as libretti for the operas Sanctuary Song, The Lesson of Da Ji, M’dea Undone, and, most recently, The Monkiest King. Some of the companies Marjorie has directed for include Gateway Theatre, Cahoots Theatre, Native Earth Performing Arts, Theatre Passe Muraille, Obsidian Theatre, and Theatre du Pif (Hong Kong). Marjorie has been nominated for nine Dora Mavor Moore Awards and won four. She has also received the K.M. Hunter Artist Award in Theatre, the My Entertainment World Award for Best New Work, a Harold Award, as well as the George Luscombe Mentorship Award. Other notable nominations include the John Hirsch Director’s Award, the Governor General’s Literary Award for her playwriting debut, China Doll, and the Canadian Citizen Award for her work with Crossing Gibraltar, Cahoots Theatre’s program for newcomers. She is also Artistic Director of Theatre Passe Muraille in Toronto.
Nina Lee Aquino is an award-winning director and dramaturge. She is the current Artistic Director of Factory Theatre. She is the editor of Canada’s first Asian-Canadian two-volume drama anthology Love + Relasianships and the co-editor of the award-winning New Essays on Canadian Theatre Volume One: Asian Canadian Theatre. Nina co-wrote Miss Orient(ed) and her monologues have been published in Beyond the Pale and She Speaks. Awards for her directorial work include: the Canada Council John Hirsch Prize 2008 and two Dora Mavor Moore Awards for Outstanding Direction. She is an honorary member of the Canadian Association for Theatre Research.
Excerpt: Lady Sunrise (by (author) Marjorie Chan; foreword by Nina Lee Aquino)
I got from her.
So fast, she didn’t see.
Didn’t care, maybe.
Maybe she so much, she don’t care | Maybe she has so much, she don’t care.
I see her, you understand?
I see her, I know she go from club there, her home there. On top floor, very top I am sure.
She live so high.
Late night I know, I see her.
Car come at night, I see her get out.
Different man, but they’re polite.
Hold her hand.
I see her
I see her every day.
From massage place, back window I can see
No one around see me, but I see
I see her
I see her hair, so pretty, some one fix it yes? Give me, I think
I see her I think
Why can I no have this? | Why can’t I have this?
These things she has
These things I want
Rings, and shoes, and sometime fur White fur, so clean like
I want, she have, she have but I want, do you understand?
Cars, taxis all night at night come home,
Car because she come home so late at night, you know? So very late.
But tonight -
I see her,
See her leaving club
No car, you understand
Walking, she’s walking.
She’s walking, I see her I follow, okay?
Penny appears, a memory, not ‘in’ the scene.
She not stop, just like this with her hand. | She doesn’t stop, just like this with her hand.
Like I have camera or want autograph. | Like I have a camera or want an autograph.
No, I’m not a fan. Not a movie fan. Not me. So I walk with her.
She walk faster.
I say, why you no take taxi?
Take taxi. Why you no take taxi? | Take taxi. Why no taxi?
None of your business.
I know, I see, she only take taxi when she has men.
Men who go to her, understand?
I say, where man? Where your man? No man tonight, lady?
I know, I say, teach me, show me
You can do, show me
I want to do different
Leave me alone!
I can do too.
Just lie on your back,
What I do,
Otherwise same like me!
Shut the fuck up!
Help me, okay?
Help me I don’t come don’t follow | Help me then I won’t come, won’t follow
Give me some nice clothes
Or some nice thing
Some old thing you don’t want
You have extra
You have more
You have to help me
You teach me
I want to do like you
Live like you.
Show me to be friends
Friends with men
Who pay but don’t hurt
Who buy but don’t take
Show me how to do!
She stare at me, just stare
I beg, okay? Okay lady.
They are going to give me to a mean man.
They give me to him.
He’s mean, so bad, every one know this. | He’s mean, so bad, every one knows this.
Bad, bad man.
He pay, he pay a lot so they give me to him
The man, he come and he say he want smallest, okay, me!
He bad very bad... | He’s bad very bad...
She’s so stupid. She stare. She say nothing. I get mad. | She’s so stupid. She stare. She says nothing. I get mad
She say nothing, make me so mad! | She says nothing, make me so mad!
NOTHING! SHE THINK NOTHING! I GET MAD! |
NOTHING! SHE THINKS NOTHING! I GET MAD!
I scream, I scream!
Just give me, give me something! You have so much!
Give me something! Give to me give to me!
I grab her bag, I grab her dress, I grab her hair
I grab this thing, I grab to grab anything
Anything I can, I grab, I grab, I grab, I GRAB!
I grab and I pull close, you know.
My face close to her
Help me, I say
Nothing. Nothing in her eyes okay.
I see nothing, you understand?
I am not so much, not so strong, no family here.
But I am not nothing.
My eyes, can you see, still something!
I AM SOMETHING!
I take my hand off.
How can she be nothing?
She is all clean, and rich.
On TV. Many friends, many things.
But inside, in her eyes
She dead, she dead already. | She’s dead, she’s dead already.
I can’t see her.
“It was beautiful and tragic and left me breathless.”
Isabella O’Brien, Mooney on Theatre
“Its reluctance to sugarcoat harsh realities will leave audiences stinging from the engrossing narratives.”
Samantha Edwards, NOW Magazine
“Seeing stories of strong and complex Asian-Canadian women on stage (or any other ethnic group, for that matter) is way overdue. What really stands out for me about Lady Sunrise is seeing all these women working together in telling these stories. They are finally able to control the narrative and bring these stories to life.”
Heidy M., Hye’s Musings