Set in Coventry and Guangzhou, Amy Ng’s compelling play tells the story of Wei, a young Chinese woman living and studying in the UK. As the single Wei approaches her 27th birthday, her grandmother begins to worry that she will be labelled a “shengnu” or “leftover woman”, and decides to intervene.
Unbeknownst to Wei, her grandmother persuades her mother to start searching for a suitable husband. Affixing Wei’s profile onto an umbrella, she joins the hundreds of parents gathering at the Guangzhou Marriage Market, where the only successful transaction is a first date for your child.
Torn between the conflicting expectations of her family and her life in the UK, can Wei navigate a path between them without losing sight of her own hopes and ambitions?
First staged at the Belgrade Theatre in March 2019, Under the Umbrella was featured on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row, and was described by The Stage as, “full of hope and light”. Based on an original idea by Creative Producer Lian Wilkinson, Under the Umbrella is written by Amy Ng, and was directed for the Belgrade Theatre by Justine Themen.
The play sets out to shine a light on British East Asian stories, some of the least represented on UK stages. It was produced by Lian Wilkinson during her attachment to the Belgrade Theatre as part of the IGNITE programme, a collection of projects curated by the Sustained Theatre Regional Associate Producer Programme (STRAPP). Supported by Arts Council England’s Sustained Theatre Fund, the programme was led by Tamasha with seven regional theatres.
Under the Umbrella Creative Producer Lian Wilkinson said: “This recording of Under the Umbrella was originally shot for archive purposes rather than public broadcast, but faced with such extraordinary circumstances, we are exploring new ways of continuing to share stories and connect with audiences.
“We’re delighted to have the support of the full cast and creative team to share the show online, and we hope that you’ll enjoy revisiting the production as much as we have. If you enjoy it, please do consider making a donation to help ensure that we are able to continue making exciting work like this in future.”
Casting for the show includes Mei Mac (Wolf Totem, Handspring and National Theatre Studio; The Apology and Thatcher in China (Yellow Earth Theatre and National Theatre Studio) as Wei and Laura Tipper (City of the Unexpected, National Theatre Wales and Wales Millennium Centre; Tinned Goods, national tour) as her housemate and best friend, Lucy.
Charlotte Chiew (Love in Newsprint, Arcola Theatre; Random Acts, BBC Four) plays Wei’s mother, Dong, and Minhee Yeo (Mountains: The Dreams of Lily Kwok, Royal Exchange Theatre and Yellow Earth Theatre; White Pearl, Royal Court Theatre) completes the cast as Wei’s grandmother and her PhD supervisor, Professor Zhang.
The production is designed by Moi Tran with lighting by Fridthjofur Thorsteinsson and sound andmusic by Arun Ghosh. Movement direction is by Chi-San Howard, and the dramaturg is Ola Animashawun.
The Belgrade Theatre Coventry in association with Yellow Earth Theatre and Tamasha are delighted to announce the online premiere of their 2019 production Under the Umbrella, which will be streamed via the Belgrade Theatre’s YouTube Channel from 22-29 May 2020.
Opening Night: 7pm, Friday 22 May