Tour to build theatrical ties
between New Zealand and Asia

The Asia New Zealand Foundation is pleased to announce the names of three theatre professionals who will take part in the Foundation's first Performing Arts Tour to China and Thailand.
Four people sit at a table during a meeting

Chye-Ling Huang, Balamohan Shingade (a participant in the Foundation's Curator Tour), Alice Canton and Ben Crowder.

The three-week tour, taking place in November, will enable the participants to gain an understanding of performing arts scenes in Asia, build their professional networks, and explore potential collaborations with Asian artists. The programme includes visits to the Bangkok Theatre Festival and the Shanghai Contemporary Theatre Festival; the group will also travel to Beijing.

This is the first time the Foundation has organised a tour for theatre professionals, building on its existing programme of professional development opportunities in Asia for visual artists.  

Asia New Zealand Foundation director culture Jennifer King says the selected participants have been producing some of the most exciting new works to come out of New Zealand in recent years.

"This tour will give them a crash course in current theatre trends in the Asian region, and help them continue to reflect New Zealand’s growing diversity in their work.”

Alice Canton – an independent actor, theatre-maker and teaching artist (Auckland)

Canton has worked with theatre companies in New Zealand, Australia and Asia. Her work focuses on social responsiveness, identity and play.

She has previously received an Asia New Zealand Foundation travel grant to study performance traditions in Southeast Asia, which was the genesis of her work Orangutan.

Her performance work White/Other premiered at the Basement in April 2016. “The Asia region is rich with traditional performance and art, cultural practice and aesthetic principles interwoven with innovation in technology, social enterprise, popular media and a rapidly developing economy,” Canton says.

Ben Crowder – artistic director and executive producer of Theatre Stampede (Auckland)

Over the past decade, Crowder has collaborated with Nightsong Productions, resulting in the works Head, 360 - a theatre of recollections and Te Pō, which enjoyed an acclaimed premiere season at the New Zealand Festival  in Wellington and the Auckland Arts Festival in March. 

Theatre Stampede has existing connections with Asia and Crowder is currently working on a project set in Thailand. He hopes the trip will increase his cultural understanding.

“I am interested in gaining insight, and the development of possible collaborations for this work – including in terms of performance, music, imagery and dance,” he says.

Crowder is also keen to increase his knowledge of China with a view to building long-term relationships in that country.

Chye-Ling Huang, co-founder of Pretty Asian Theatre Company (Auckland)

Huang is an actor, puppeteer and writer. She created Pretty Asian Theatre in 2013 with co-founder James Roque to support Asian artists to tell their stories in New Zealand theatre. “My Chinese roots are deeply ingrained in my work, though my knowledge of Asian theatre and art thus far is relatively limited," she says.

"Experiencing an array of contemporary Asian theatre in Beijing, Shanghai and Bangkok, I hope to come away with new insights that I can bring to my company."

Huang has two scripts in development, one of which, Call of Sparrows, will be staged prior to the tour. She hopes to make connections that will enable her works to be staged in Asia in the future.