Chen, an associate artist of Bhumi Collective, reprises the persona of Charlie, who has been brought up to believe that there is danger beyond her room, and that the world has made a sacrifice for her to remain safe in isolation.
The 15-minute performance starts with a single audience member entering a room to meet twelve-year-old Charlie. What follows depends on each audience’s description of the world we live in: if your words were the only thing a twelve-year-old could hang on to in this maddening world, what would you say to her?
Charlie returns after successful runs in the United Kingdom (UK) at the Edinburgh Student Arts Festival where it won the Best Performing Artist Award, and the On the Rocks Festival in 2017, as well as a two-weeks run in Singapore in 2018.
For this new iteration, the performance goes online. Isolation meets isolation, in which audiences will encounter Charlie from their own homes in a time-limited Zoom room for an intimate experience of the quarantine era.
The production was conceived in the aftermath of political upheavals like Brexit and the appointment of Donald Trump as President of the United States.
“As Vic and I were both based in the UK back then, Brexit was something that was a living and breathing thing for us, and what consequently happened with Trump, did not feel too far away,” said Bhumi Collective’s Joint Artistic Director, Mohamad Shaifulbahri.
“Now, the world seems to have gone down this very rabbit hole, with the pandemic and social media further pulling us away from each other in what is ironically an ever-connected world.”
This piece hopes to challenge the audience’s understanding of the world they live in through gentle introspection. In the vein of a tabula rasa, Charlie gives the audience the responsibility of shaping a girl’s idea of the world through their words.
“A lot of the polarities and inequalities of the world have surfaced in recent years,” says artist Victoria Chen. “Especially with the disruptions plaguing us in 2020, we are faced squarely with the broken systems and fragmentations in society. How do you justify and explain all these sentiments to a child who did not have any part in it?”
Victoria Chen is an Associate Artist of Bhumi Collective. She is a theatre-maker who aims to create multidisciplinary pieces that challenge stereotypes and share unheard narratives. She draws inspiration from both Eastern and Western forms, with exchange and collaboration at the heart of her work.
She was recently part of The Theatre Practice’s production of Four Horse Road, and will be involved in How Drama’s Fat Kids Are Harder To Kidnap and The Second Breakfast Company’s The Hawker.
Melbourne Fringe Digital: continues to 28 November 2020
For more information, visit: www.bhumicollective.com for details.
Image: Victoria Chen features in Charlie – courtesy of Bhumi Collective