From Shore to Shore tour highlights experiences of Chinese migrants in the UK

Following the recent conclusion of the From Shore to Shore UK tour, sponsored by The Business Confucius Institute, we reflect upon the project and celebrate its success.

From Shore to Shore is a theatre project conceived by writer Mary Cooper in 2010, when she tutored a creative writing course for Chinese writers. Hearing their stories made her realise how little she knew about the many Chinese people living in the UK, and she embarked upon a journey to understand and communicate their experiences. “It’s like we are carriers, to get these stories out in the open,” Mary said. “I see myself as a channel for enabling stories to be heard.”

Now that the play resulting from Mary’s research has completed a tour of nine UK cities, it is safe to say that she has achieved that goal. Mary worked with translator Mimi Webster Lam and theatre producer Deborah Dickinson to create a unique experience that wove together different languages and was performed in restaurants with a meal included. The play was directed by experienced director and actor David KS Tse, who led a team of eight young Chinese performers.

The restaurant setting creating an unusual opportunity for people to discuss the play with others around them, and audience feedback on the experience overall has been fantastic. Many nights on the tour were performed to sell-out audiences, and the project caught the attention of BBC Radio 4’s Front Row programme. Mary and Mimi’s appearance on the show is available on the BBC iPlayer, and you can find further links to press coverage below.

It was so beautifully written and terrifically acted, and particularly in these tense times, really important to have channels for community voices to be heard – thank goodness for art and culture! Jenna Ng: audience member in York

Read a full review of the play on Jenna’s blog.

The Business Confucius Institute is proud to have been involved in From Shore to Shore from the beginning, supporting the first work in progress performance in October 2015 and helping to build the network that made the national tour possible. Deborah said: “Our partnership with the Business Confucius Institute and their endorsement of From Shore to Shore was critical in producing a national tour. Being supported by [the Business Confucius Institute] gave credibility to the production which helped us to get other Confucius Institutes on board.”

Mary added: “Thank you for the consistently positive and encouraging conversations and, above all, your belief in and enthusiasm for From Shore to Shore, right from the very beginning. We really couldn’t have done it without you.”

Press coverage of From Shore to Shore:

The performances from all the performers were outstanding but I would like to say how well the writing captured the essence of what it is to be part of the story of the Chinese migrant community. It is one thing to listen to and record the stories of individuals but you wove them into a cohesive, sympathetic and dramatic play which took me back many years and allowed me once more to listen to my father telling his story and to see again many of the things I experienced growing up as a British born Chinese. Audience member Colin Ling (Chief Executive Officer, Chinese Wellbeing Centre, Liverpool)

View photos from the work in progress performance, tour rehearsals, and UK tour opening night on our Flickr page.