urban ink productions

Written and performed by Tricia Collins and directed by Maiko Bae Yamamoto

Dates 25 October 3 November 2007 Venue Chapel Arts, 304 Dunlevy Avenue, Vancouver

Reviewer John Jane

Chinese character for woman

Just around the corner from the Firehall theatre in the egregious downtown east side neighbourhood, there’s a little-known gem called the Chapel Arts Centre. This former funeral home, constructed in Art Deco style, has been transformed into a multi-purpose event centre.

The “Chapel” is the chosen venue for Gravity, a captivating multi-media work that tells the story of Guyanese-Canadian, Tricia Collins’ rich Chinese heritage, traversing four generations and three continents.

Collins’ central theme is women's survival of life and love in the face of adversity. She engages her audience by combining creative forms of visual storytelling, seamlessly interweaving fact and folklore through imagery, innovative staging and her own physicality.

Collins uses every square inch of Cindy Mochizuki’s well designed stage. The performance area takes up about 25% of the tiny theatre, with an array of fishing nets, wooden crates, a collection of apothecary jars and white sand (actually commercial salt) used to simulate a remote beach on Guyana’s coastline.

The athletic Collins enhances her numerous anecdotes by scaling up and down the two white cotton sheets hung from the ceiling and reaching the floor. The performer also keeps the audience transfixed by frequently switching between a narrative style of storytelling in a neutral voice and colourful characterizations of her female ancestors with a perfect Guyanese accent.

While Tricia Collins is the only performer seen on stage, she is supported by a talented production team headed up by director, Maiko Bae Yamamoto, a graduate of Simon Fraser University’s School for the Contemporary Arts. Yamamoto herself is an exponent of experimental theatre with creations like Sexual Practices of the Japanese.

© 2007 John Jane