On the Couch with Chi Vu

Chi Vu Arts Review On the CouchWho is Chi Vu?
I’m a writer and producer who collaborates with diverse artists to create performances using genres such as the postcolonial gothic, horror, magic-realism and comedy. My current work is Coloured Aliens, an interracial comedy playing at La Mama, aims to be a cheeky and fun conversation-starter about cultural diversity in Australian theatre. It’s part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2017. I also write prose, and my novella Anguli Ma: a Gothic Tale was shortlisted in a NSW Premier’s Literary Prize. My short stories are published in Joyful Strains, Growing up Asian in Australia and The Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature.

Who inspires you and why?
Back to Back Theatre, Sisters Grimm, The Rabble, Rimini Protokoll, Ranters Theatre, Susie Dee and Patricia Cornelius are some of the theatre makers I admire the most – for pushing the boundaries of the form, while also connecting us to our humanity. And pretty much everyone who’s working as a parent, teacher, ambo driver, nurse or carer.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
In this age of social media it’s easy to only pay attention to those who seem to have lots of similarities to us. However, experience has shown that kindness can come from where we least expect it. And so can cruelty, too. So I hope to make theatre that reminds myself of this.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
If they’re from overseas and need to see some kangaroos, my partner and I take them to Serendip Sanctuary, in Lara. It’s closer to our side of town and a bit of a hidden gem. Otherwise, there are many beautiful walks in and around Melbourne, especially the Botanic Gardens.

What are you currently listening to?
Audiobooks borrowed from the library – you can download these onto your device, then listen to them while driving or walking, and they just disappear if you don’t renew them – so no library fines. I just finished Christina Stead’s The Man Who Loved Children; the characters are so richly drawn.

Happiness is?
Something which happened to me recently reminded me how joy and fun can pop up when you’re least expecting it. At Charlie’s groceries, Werribee, the skinny, Indian-looking woman at the cash register was so tired, she bagged my vegetables and almost told me to go without paying. Then her blonde friend, also tired but playful at the end of a long working day, asked me – “You, when you sneeze, do you go ‘achoo’ or achee? This one (she said pointing to the woman who’d just served me) says it’s ‘achee’.” I had to think about it, and went to mime a sneeze, and found myself making a sound that was in between an achoo and an achee. “See, it’s acheee!” “No, she said achooo.” (In actuality, when I sneeze really hard, it’s akin to what a supersonic jet must sound like – for the dog leaves the room). I quickly figured out that these two ladies had been doing cross-cultural comparisons all day to keep themselves entertained. So I told them, “I came to Australia as a kid, and when I first got here, if I was cut or hurt, I’d say ‘Ayah!’, but now I say ‘Ouch’. The blonde woman was fascinated and I could see her delve into her memory for her own response to pain, “I say ouchee-wowchie”, she said! We all smiled heartily at each other, as we’d all time-travelled back to our childhoods momentarily.

What does the future hold for you?
I’d love for us all to be more in touch with nature, slow down, perceive and appreciate the abundance that many of us already have, and to take the time to need less, want less.

Chi is the Author of Coloured Aliens – currently playing at La Mama as part of the 2017 Melbourne International Comedy Festival until 16 April. For more information, visit: www.lamama.com.au or www.comedyfestival.com.au for details.

Image: Chi Vu (supplied)