Amy Ng’s tale of tradition vs modern life and personal ambitions vs family loyalty, Under The Umbrella, will have its world premiere at the Belgrade Theatre next month before embarking on a UK tour. This exciting new production premieres in Coventry from 2-16 March 2019. Book your tickets now!
Following its opening in the midlands, the co-production between the Belgrade Theatre, Tamasha and Yellow Earth tours to Poole Lighthouse (19 March), Unity Theatre (21-23 March) and Tara Theatre (26-30 March).
Set in Coventry and Guangzhou, Under The Umbrella 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 pushes her mother into helping with the search for a suitable husband. Affixing Wei’s profile onto an umbrella, they join the hundreds of parents at the 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?
Under The Umbrella playwright Amy Ng is a graduate of both Oxford and Yale universities whose previous plays include Shangri-La (Finborough Theatre) and Acceptance (Hampstead Theatre). She has been a member of writers groups at Tamasha, the Young Vic, the Criterion and the Royal Court, and is currently on attachment with Yellow Earth.
Mei Mac leads the cast as Wei. Mac has previously appeared in productions including Wolf Totem, The Apology and Thatcher in China. She’s joined in the cast by Laura Tipper (City of the Unexpected, National Theatre Wales), Charlotte Chiew (Love in Newsprint, Arcola Theatre) and Minhee Yeo (Mountains: The Dreams of Lily Kwok, Royal Exchange Theatre and Yellow Earth).
The production is directed by Belgrade Theatre Associate Director Justine Themen, with design by Moi Tran and movement by Chi-San Howard. The play is based on an original idea by Lian Wilkinson. Lighting is by Fridthjofur Thorsteinsson, sound and music are by Arun Ghosh and the dramaturg is Ola Animashawun.
The Belgrade Theatre is making the production more accessible to Chinese audiences by using an app that provides a simple Chinese translation direct to the audiences’ own mobile devices. Created by Talking Birds, The Difference Engine transmits captioning direct to any audience member who feels they could be of use. The app has previously been used by companies including Graeae, Complicite, Milk Presents and Derby Theatre.
Under The Umbrella runs at the Belgrade Theatre as part of a spring season that also includes The Comedy About A Bank Robbery, Tamasha’s production of Ishy Din’s Approaching Empty and Emma Rice’s stage adaptation of Angela Carter’s Wise Children.
Under The Umbrella runs from 2 to 16 March at Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre, Belgrade Square, Corporation St, Coventry CV1 1GS. Performances are Tuesdays to Saturdays at 7.45pm, with an extra performance on 4 March at 7.45pm and matinees on 9, 14 & 16 March at 2.30pm. Tickets are priced £12-£14.75. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!
More about the Under The Umbrella companies:
Belgrade Theatre opened in 1958 as part of the rebuilding of Coventry after the Second World War. It received its name due to the gift of timber made by the Serbian capital, which was central to the construction of the new auditorium. It is the major arts and cultural facility in Coventry, and is part of a group of organisations promoting engagement with the arts as Coventry prepares to be the 2021 City of Culture.
Tamasha is a diverse cohort of bold and playful theatremakers, foregrounding emerging and established artists from culturally diverse backgrounds. It aims to fuel the future of new writing by producing and touring the best new plays that challenge and change audiences everywhere; nurture, train and inspire artists, leaders and young people; and enable theatremakers to engage creatively with communities and audiences, altering perceptions of what theatre can be.
Formed in 1995 to widen the choice and type of roles being offered to British East Asian actors, Yellow Earth aims to identify and invest in emerging and established BEA actors, writers and directors and to nurture and champion those artists, supporting them to make groundbreaking work that will increase the visibility and profile of BEA theatre in the UK and beyond. It also engages and develops new audiences, seeking to inspire the next generation of BEA artists.