Kakilang presents the UK Premiere of
Si Rawlinson’s Saving Face
A new comedy dance theatre show exploring stories of invisible illness, private struggle and what happens when being professional collides with being human…
Curve, Leicester, Friday 26 & Saturday 27 May
British Chinese choreographer and theatre maker Si Rawlinson is giving the UK premiere of his new comedy dance theatre show, Saving Face, at Curve, Leicester, on 26 and 27 May, a place at the heart of Rawlinson’s personal and professional life.
Inspired by his personal story, Saving Face is written and directed by Rawlinson who also performs in the show. He has had a chronic illness since childhood – Rawlinson is essentially allergic to food. His condition costs the NHS £37,000 per year.
Saving Face tells the stories of four office colleagues hiding from each other in plain sight, each with their own private struggles, each trying to save face. But what happens when buried things come up for air?
Born and raised in Hong Kong with mixed Chinese and British heritage, Rawlinson has strong links with Leicester. His parents live in the city and he considers it his family home, He is a Curve Resident Creative and a past lecturer at De Montfort University.
Rawlison says: “My association with Curve means a great deal to me. It was really their support which gave me the foundations to become an artist. They gave me guidance, mentorship and space. I also have unforgettable memories of breakdancing in the foyer everyday! I’m really looking forward to premiering a show at a place I know so well.”
Rawlinson uses interdisciplinary theatre to push the boundaries of storytelling, mixing hip hop and contemporary dance, dialogue and physical theatre, finding humour and comfort in the things that we choose to hide. Dance punctuates the show to drive the story when words can’t. For Rawlinson, dance is a way of having agency over the body (a body he has always wrestled with for control) bringing the internal drama to the surface in a spectacular way.
He adds: “Asian-ness is a context for the show – there is an ingrained idea in South East and East Asian cultures of ‘saving face’ where admitting to perceived weakness or mistakes is hugely shameful, both personally and professionally. Saving Face is about the freedom to be human.”
The movement of Christine Ting – Huan 挺歡 Urquhart’s brilliantly clever set design becomes a living part of the choreography. Four mobile workspaces glide across the stage and morph into unique yet recognisable office environments, as if the office is the fifth character. The performers are at times carried by them, and at times dance with and around them.
Saving Face is performed by dancers Yukiko Masui, Jamaal O’Driscoll, Lisa Chearles and Rawlinson himself.
Saving Face is produced by Kakilang, an NPO arts organisation based in London, where Rawlinson is one of three Associate Artistic Directors alongside Daniel York Loh and Ling Tan.