Poetry, music and drama are a source of beauty and pleasure. In this performance they also bring our awakening to the lives that some people are forced to live in order to survive. We are shown an ugly side to existence, but in a most compelling and poignant way, through the artistry of NJO Kong Kim, composer and performer together with FUNG Kwok See Gabriel, set and lighting designer.
From the tragedy of a seemingly wasted life the creators of I Swallowed a Moon have brought forth an incredibly moving and effective performance based on the poetry of XU Lizhi, set to music and performed by Canadian composer NJO Kong Kie.
As the lights in the auditorium fade a dimly lit figure walks on to the stage. He passes in and out of the light, miming tasks associated with an assembly line. At times he is forced by exhaustion to stop.
From there he moves to a piano, now visible, and against a backdrop of the words of the poetry in Chinese and English, he begins to play and sing the words of these poems.
They have been described as heartbreaking, told with exquisite beauty and brutality, bringing the lives of migrant workers under the spotlight.
I swallowed an iron moon
they called it a screw
I swallowed industrial wastewater and unemployment forms
bent over machines our youth died young
I spread across my country
a poem of shame
XU Lizhi was born in 1990. At the age of twenty four, he took his own life in despair at the demeaning and life destroying job in the assembly line at Foxcom in Shenzhen, China. This factory produces electronic devices, devices which we use and which make our life easier. It did not make the life of its workers easy. Drudgery, exhaustion and a sense of hopelessness led XU Lizhi to write a number of poems, some of which were known in his life time but which became more famous after his suicide.
Predicting his death in the poem I Know A Day will Come he wrote:
I know a day will come
when those I know and don’t know
will enter my room
to collect my remains
The power of the music and the images portrayed on the screen, mean that this performance is not a dirge or a reprimand to the more affluent. Rather, it is an entry into the life and mind of a young man, an almost surreal experience, through the power of the word, the actor and the music. You will go away more thoughtful, having glimpsed the soul of another human being.
OzAsia Festival 25-26 October
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