“You like your minorities like your pandas – picturesque, cuddly, endangered, helpless. But I refuse to be a panda. I refuse to go extinct. I want to live, to live well, to live like them.”
What happens when the only thing you have to sell is your culture? When the only way to free yourself is to betray your roots? Based on her personal experiences, new playwright Amy Ng lays bare the contradictions and private pain of cultural tourism. Shangri-La is Amy Ng’s first full length play. It was developed at the Tricycle Theatre and received a staged reading at Vibrant 2014 – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights. It is directed by acclaimed director Charlotte Westenra.
Shangri-La is not a myth. Shangri-La is a place. The Himalayan foothills of China’s Yunnan Province were officially renamed ‘Shangri-La’ in a successful bid for the tourist dollar.
Bunny, a young indigenous woman, has witnessed her family’s livelihood destroyed by mass tourism. She dreams of escape — as a globe-trotting photographer. Nelson, her liberal Chinese boss, dreams of a new kind of tourism that’s sustainable and enables genuine cultural exchange. Their white Western clients yearn for escape, for the touch of something authentic. These desires collide head on in Shangri-La.
Shangri-La is on at the Finborough Theatre, from Tuesday, 12 July – Saturday, 6 August 2016. Website.