Written and directed by Derek Chan. A Cloud Strife production. At the Firehall Arts Centre on Wednesday, March 11. Continuing to May 22
Derek Chan’s yellow objects begins with a news broadcast over a radio, which sets the scene in 2051. It warns that a high-risk prisoner has escaped, implores listeners to stay vigilant, and reminds them to love their country.
From there, visitors to the exhibition meet the two main characters, Sandra Wong, a Canadian woman sent to Hong Kong to deliver her grandmother’s ashes, and Uncle Chan, a custodian at a school. Once these two characters meet, the story takes off—with supernatural themes, graphic depictions of violence, and political change at the core of the material.
Chan conceived of yellow objects in response to China’s crackdown on Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement; the title refers to how a white police officer referred to one of the Hong Kong demonstrators as he was being assaulted by other officers.
This exhibition was created when theatre went virtual in Vancouver, and Chan and the production artists expertly crafted a set and experience for the physically distanced audience to immerse themselves in.
Through radio broadcasts, clips of dialogue between characters, video, and sound mixing, viewers feel as though they’re walking in on a conversation. Without the presence of actors or stagehands in the room, there is still an eerie feeling of interaction.
Set pieces are brilliantly lit up with each vignette, depicting characters, setting, and tone. From a simple wall of white cloth draped to display projections, to an umbrella, boots, and a shadow set up to look as though a girl is standing with the audience, Chan and his production team take every opportunity to include the viewer in the story. As a result, yellow objects forces people to confront the injustice that Hong Kong residents are facing.
As Chan says, “It’s a rally for the ones who are still risking their lives out there; written in remembrance of those who cannot be there anymore; a lament of families broken and loves lost.