What was the genesis of this play?
My dad made a point of taking me to the wet markets in Hong Kong when I was a little girl, and we've always enjoyed seafood in Chinese restaurants, so the idea of eating recently alive, super-fresh seafood is pretty normal to me. But over the years I've started questioning how necessary it is to keep seafood in crowded tanks, potentially stressing them out before they are eaten. I'm also uncomfortable choosing fish to be killed, especially the large ones who have lived for many years. But my parents really love fresh seafood, so I've made a deal with them that we only do the live fish thing on special occasions instead of every time. I'm also keen that my kids see where our food comes from - that way they value it more.
So this play is kind of exploring these feelings further. Theatre is pretty out-there, hyperreal, and surround- 3D. It's also heaps of fun - think people in giant fish costumes hip hop dancing, and singing rip off versions of the Sponge Bob song.
* What drew you to write this in a fish tank in a Chinese restaurant? And how did you decide on the species of the characters? Is there a meaning behind the blue cod and crayfish?
Blue cod and crayfish are two of the most popular fish in Chinese restaurants (I like eating them.) They're also colourful with weird habits (sex change anyone?) so pretty fascinating to get inside the mind of and write about.
What thoughts informed the decision to integrate physical comedy?
It was a no-brainer really... once you make the decision to cast people as fish, the clowning and physical comedy are the natural result. Also, once you're talking about two fish in a potentially lethal situation (I mean there's nowhere for them to go) then you are asking some pretty big questions. The fish are just the excuse to explore some ideas I have about life, and the power of belief, and knowledge....all great theatrical themes.
What are some strengths that your cast of two - the talented Hweiling Ow and Benjamin Teh - bring to the stage and story?
Hweiling and Ben have amazing physical comedy skills, and I wrote the play for them knowing that. They're friends and know each other really well so I can make them do really awkward things in the script. They're also incredibly funny and warm as people and actors. Ben is a great hip hop dancer so I pretty much had to make him do some of that - in a crayfish costume.
In a video your co-producer emphasised the desire for Bubblelands not to be defined as a “cultural Asian play”. Would you say that this is an attempt to break through a kind of glass ceiling in theatre?
...or a glass tank? I think we're always trying to defy the stereotypes. People expect one thing, so you blow them out of the water with something else. I'm super chuffed if I can do this as a writer. Ditto with the actors. At the end of the day, we'd like to be known as good at what we do, and able to move people with our story - what ethnicity/gender/age we are doesn't (or shouldn't) count.