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The Bridal Lament

Rainbow Chan 陳雋然

Presented by Arts House 
Produced by Contemporary Australian Asian Performance 

Wednesday 8 – Sunday 19 May 2024 
Preview: Wed 8 May, 7.30pm 
Wed – Sat, 7.30pm   
Sun 19 May, 5pm 
70 mins 

Post-show Artist Talk 
Thu 16 May for all ticket holders 

Auslan Performance 
Thu 16 May, 7.30pm   

Tickets 
Standard $35 
Reduced $20 
BLAKTIX $10 
A small transaction fee will be charged per order.  

Warnings 
The Bridal Lament contains haze, loud sounds, low lighting, lights that change in colours and intensity, black out and flashing moving imagery.  

Performance includes translation of Weitou dialect into English through open captioning. 

Detailed access information is available to download below
PDF | Word Doc

Arts House
North Melbourne Town Hall
521 Queensberry St,
North Melbourne

Assistance Animal
Aural Rating 50%
Auslan Interpreting
Companion Card
Open Captioning
Quiet Space Available
Visual Rating 50%
Wheelchair Accessible

A sumptuous audio-visual experience and song cycle by award-winning vocalist, producer and multi-disciplinary artist Rainbow Chan 陳雋然. 

Drawing on her Weitou ancestry (first settlers of Hong Kong), Chan reimagines a Weitou ritual known as the bridal lament, a public performance of grief in which a bride wept and sang in front of family and friends. In this liminal space, brides expressed bitterness towards their arranged marriages and the prevailing patriarchal rule.  

Conceived and structured as a song cycle, The Bridal Lament brings to life intergenerational and cross-cultural perspectives on diasporic experiences and the complex history of Hong Kong. With a new suite of songs by Chan and direction from Tessa Leong, this lush and lavish work pays homage to ritual in a vibrant and dynamic world of projection, movement and colour.  

Rainbow Chan’s music and shows have been hailed as ‘genre-bending art pop’ (NME) and ‘bewitchingly elfin in the exactly the same way that those words have been used to describe Bjork.’ (The Music). 

 

“A striking and unique homage to heritage and sisterhood that could only be led by an artist such as Rainbow Chan”ABC TV rage 

“A welcome return and uncompromising slice of art-pop”The Guardian  

“unmistakeably poetic in nature…The Bridal Lament 哭嫁歌 is tender yet intense” – Suzy Goes See 

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About the artists

Rainbow Chan 陳雋然 is an award-winning vocalist, producer and multi-disciplinary artist based in Naarm/Melbourne. Driven by a DIY spirit, Chan melds catchy melodies and off-kilter beats made up of field-recordings and found sounds. Both heartbreaking and tender, her idiosyncratic brand of pop reflects diasporic experiences and deeply personal tales of love and loss. In 2022, Chan was recognised in the "40 Under 40: Most Influential Asian Australians Award" for her contribution to arts and culture. She won "Artist of the Year" in the 2022 FBi SMAC Awards. 

Tessa Leong is the Artistic Director of Contemporary Asian Australian Performance. She is a theatre director, dramaturg and collaborator who has worked extensively across theatre, performance, dance theatre, live art and socially engaged projects. She was Griffin Theatre Company’s inaugural Associate Artistic Director from 2020 until 2022 where she directed the world premieres of Merlynn Tong’s Golden Blood and Kendall Feaver’s Wherever She Wanders to great critical and audience acclaim. Tessa is also a founding member of Adelaide-based theatre company isthisyours? for which she has directed Angelique by Duncan Graham and David Williamson’s The Club (an all-female, 3 actor version) as well as directed and devised #Youwannatalkaboutit, Best We Forget , and Make Me Honest Make Me Wedding Cake. 

Amrita Hepi (b. 1989, Townsville of Bundjulung/Ngapuhi territories, currently Melbourne-based) is an award-winning artist. Her current practice is concerned with dance as social function performed within galleries, performance spaces, video art and digital technologies. She engages in forms of historical fiction and hybridity —especially those that arise under empire— to investigate the bodies relationship to personal histories and archive. Amrita is represented by Anna Schwartz Gallery. In 2020/2018, she was the recipient of the People’s Choice Award for the Keir Choreographic Award for RINSE and won FBI Radio’s BEST ARTIST.

Victoria Hunt was born on unceded Kombumerri Country (Surfers Paradise) and currently lives on Bidjigal Country, Eora (Sydney, Australia). Her ancestral affiliations are Te Arawa, Rongowhaakata, Kahungunu Māori, Irish, English, Finnish. Victoria’s work delves into Indigenous epistemologies within diasporic concepts of identity formation and belonging. Her work is liminal, transcultural, transdisciplinary and reinstates the power of Indigenous creativity within the politics of Rematriation – inserting the body into frameworks of power, for future ancestors. Central to this is Whakapapa (kinship/genealogies), Atua Wahine (sacred feminine principle), Body Weather and IndigiQueer revitalization within creation practices. Her work is a gradual binding of intimate collaboration between artists, Elders and communities. Victoria works across the visual and performing arts as a dancer, director, choreographer, dramaturg, photographer, and filmmaker. She collaborates with a core team of artists, namely Boris Bagattini (visual design) and James Brown (composer), and their award-winning works have toured nationally and internationally to critical acclaim. Her films have screened across six continents. She is a founding member of Australia's leading Body Weather dance company, De Quincey Co., since 2000, and is a co-founder of Weather Beings, a 2Spirit performance collective estab. with Métis artist Moe Clark, based in tio'tia:ke / Montréal since 2019.

Rel Pham is a Naarm/Melbourne-based artist, designer, animator and illustrator known for a strong use of electric, vibrant colours and a penchant for surrealism. Drawing upon old world fables and rituals for thematic inspiration, Pham explores the interconnected nature of our current physical and digital realities through screen-based video, animation and installation. Pham creates hybrid worlds, rendering traditional scenes of Cao Dai temples and Western classical art in an illuminated palette of neon PC coolant fluid and radiant LED lights. He flattens our past, present and future to demystify the invisible numbers that surround everyday life, exposing the programmed spectres haunting our data through cautionary tales of being intrinsically connected online.  

Al Joel is a costume, set and production designer currently living and working in Sydney Australia. She works across live performance, events, screen and print and is currently in residency at the Art Gallery of NSW as part of their Sweet Incites program. Recent clients include Mecca, Netflix, Sydney Dance Company, MoNA, Performance Space, Apple, Paris Georgia, Sugar Mountain Festival, CADA Radio and the Centre d’art Scenique Contemporain. 

Govin Ruben is a performance maker, designer, director and creative producer based between Kuala Lumpur, New York and Melbourne. He is also director of TerryandTheCuz, a Malaysian/Australian company which has created an array of interdisciplinary arts projects around the world. In recent years, He has initiated, steered, directed and designed multiple international collaborations. Govin is a Board Director for the International Society of the Performing Arts (ISPA). He has been nominated for a New York City Innovative Theatre Award, 11 Melbourne Greenroom Awards and a Royal Welsh Theatre Award. He is a multiple Greenroom Award winner for his works SK!N and HuRU-hARa as well as a 5-time winner of the National Arts Award in Malaysia for Klue,Doh! and Flatland.

Emily Borghi is a designer and maker based in Sydney, who works across film, tv, and stage. With a strong focus on scenic art, she loves exploring colour, shape and texture to tell a visual story. As a production designer, some of her work includes horror feature Red Christmas (Sydney Film Festival '16), comedy short Tayman (Tropfest '16) and The Angus Project (ABC Fresh Blood '18). Emily completed the Adv. Dip of Live Production Design from the Enmore Design Centre in 2020, receiving the ‘APDG Best Production Design’ Award. She has since worked as a scenic artist at Sydney Theatre Company, as well as on major films including Thor: Love & Thunder, and Furiosa, honing her skills in material effects and construction. Emily’s collaborative attitude, practical experience, and enthusiasm for creative problem solving all contribute to her ability to create vividly textured worlds. 

Contemporary Asian Australian Performance (CAAP) is Australia’s only performing arts company with a remit for producing, developing and enabling Asian Australian works and artists to reach main stages nationally. Through highly valued productions and initiatives, CAAP is regarded as a crucial leader and catalyst in the ongoing shift to greater cultural diversity and inclusiveness in the arts. We provide the scaffolding for Asian Australian artists to thrive in a more equitable and representative industry. In all that we do, we work to transform the Australian theatre landscape.

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Artist statement

‘The seed for The Bridal Lament was first planted when I asked my mum if she could teach me her mother-tongue, Weitouhua, a disappearing dialect that was once spoken throughout Hong Kong. Our conversation sparked what is now becoming a life-long research project into Weitou women's cultural knowledge. Since 2018, I have collaborated with female elders in Lung Yeuk Tau village to relearn their ritual songs. As the Weitou grannies reach old age, these poignant laments are at risk of fading away. The Bridal Lament embodies the essence of this intergenerational journey, exploring themes of grief, love and imperfect translations. It draws inspiration not only from the poetry of these laments but also the powerful theme of defiance in the face of change. Through this project, I wish to honour the resilience of Weitou women’s voices, ensuring that their melodies and stories continue to resonate for generations to come.’

- Rainbow Chan 陳雋然
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Artistic credits

Lead Artist and Performer:Rainbow Chan 陳雋然
Director: Tessa Leong
Choreographic Consultants: Amrita Hepi and Victoria Hunt
Video Design: Rel Pham
Set Design: Al Joel and Emily Borghi
Costume Design: Al Joel
Lighting Concept: Govin Ruben
Lighting Realisers: Susie Henderson and Sam Read
Cultural Consultant and Narrator: Irene Cheung 張翠屏
Video Programmer: Daniel Herten

Supported by
The Bridal Lament has been co-commissioned by Performance Space as part of Liveworks Festival 2023 and OzAsia 2023, with commissioning support from Carriageworks and the City of Melbourne through Arts House.

Supported by the Australian Government through Creative Australia, its principal arts investment and advisory body, the Besen Foundation, Playking Foundation, the National Foundation for Australia-China Relations, and West Kowloon Cultural District, and generously supported by George Paramananthan and ParamCo.   

Image credit: Rainbow Chan. Still: Capsule 48 

Image description: Rainbow Chan in profile, looking to one side. She is standing in front of neon lights that bleed red and purple colour into the background. She has large, glistening tears made from wax that sit on her cheeks beneath her eye. Rainbow is adorned with an ornate bejewelled headpiece that shimmers with gold and pearls.