Today I did an interview for my university newspaper, Tharunka. I drove out to Bankstown to the new performing arts centre there, which is rather impressive and very slick. The show is called Ama and Chan and the two main characters are created and performed by Alan Lao (Chan) and Effie Nkrumah (Ama). Ama and Chan are newly weds but with a twist. They are both second generation migrants, Ama’s ancestry being Ghanaian and Chan’s being Chinese. She likes Chinese food…a bit….and he doesn’t mind the odd wig or a bit of Fufu. But there’s something else. They think themselves celebrities of the social network kind. Their fusion of Ghanaian and Chinese recipes has gone viral and the traffic to their Facebook pages has more than once caused a ‘crash’. Add to this the in-law bickering, the missing furniture, the pork neck and a strange guy in the spare room. To solve all their problems Ama and Chan decide they need to get richer and more famous and so buy themselves a camera, start creating crazy and ingenious fusion recipes and then lay all their faith in YouTube. And you, me, we are invited to the live filming of the soon-to-be popular Reality Cooking Show.
Effie and Alan met whilst they were drama students at the University of Western Sydney and its little wonder that they are both collaborators; they are both young, talented and have some big ideas. More than that, they actually know how to turn these ideas into funny and successful theatre. Their work draws a lot on stereotypes of Africans and Asians and as they said to me today, they come from a place of understanding, not one of ignorance. Actually that is what they are targeting; ignorance. You laugh at their accents (which are so natural it is a bit of a shock when they suddenly start speaking to me in broad Australian accents) and their actions, at Ama’s superstitions and Chan’s goofy way of placating his wife. But then you ask yourself, why am I laughing? What part do I find funny? Am I laughing at these people? Or am I being invited into their world and being given permission to laugh with them?
For two young and up-and-coming thespians, these two are sure equipped with many of the skills that others might take years to learn. They are naturals on stage and they know what they are doing without trying too hard. Obviously I was really impressed….and I only saw a half-hour of the rehearsal!
I would love to put the interview on here but I have to reserve that right for the Tharunka print….but I’m sure you get the gist. These guys are great.
The show is on from the 4th May to the 14th May, 2011.
Its at Bankstown Arts Centre Theatre, 5 Olympic Parade Bankstown.
call 9707 2111 or go to http://www.urbantheatre.com.au for more info.