WRITING AND PERFORMANCE
As we travel through Every Dollar is A Soldier/With Money Yo’re A Dragon, we encountered choreographer and dancer Si Rawlinson and met Astor himself, played by Daniel York Loh, whose poetic and powerful original narration ran throughout the performance.
DANIEL YORK LOH
Daniel is a mixed-race British East Asian actor, writer, director, filmmaker and musician. As an actor he has appeared at the Royal Shakespeare Company, National Theatre, Donmar Warehouse and The Old Vic as well as in the feature films Rogue Trader, The Beach, The Receptionist and Scarborough. Also an established writer, Daniel’s theatre credits include: The Fu Manchu Complex (Ovalhouse/Moongate), Forgotten 遗忘 (Moongate/New Earth/Arcola/Plymouth Theatre Royal) and Invisible Harmony 无形的和谐 (Papergang/Chinese Arts Now/South Bank Centre). His short films have included writing for Mercutio’s Dreaming: The Killing of a Chinese Actor (also co-director and composer), Dream of Emerald Hill and directing Night Lives, Finding Akira and Hall of Mirrors – the latter of which won Best Drama Short at the 2017 London Independent Film Awards. Daniel is featured in the best-selling essay collection The Good Immigrant, which won the 2016 Books Are My Bag Reader’s Choice award.
“I’ve always related to, and felt deeply, the Asian migrant experience but I was unprepared for how much the Astor story resonated with me. That quest to belong, to feel respected, to have a place, to feel… loved?
I was taken by Donald Shek’s description of Two Temple Place as ‘mythological’. It feels epic, wide, beautiful… but intimidatingly so. It’s difficult not to feel ‘small’.
And isn’t ‘small’ what all migrants sometimes feel? From the poorest of Chinese sailors who jumped ship in the East End in search of a space to thrive to the richest Astors who sought the affirmation of nobility. Because we’re always a minority”
Si Rawlinson is a Hong Kong born mix-race British Chinese choreographer and theatre maker. After coming up through the hip hop dance community and competing internationally, he has worked with acclaimed artists like Gary Clarke, Alesandra Seutin, Requardt and Rosenberg, Akram Khan with People Dancing, and Marso Riviere. He started his company Wayward Thread in 2016. Rooted in break (breakdance), and mixing hip hop styles, contemporary dance, physical theatre, and spoken word, he explores compassion, identity, and our dissonant relationship with a rapidly changing world. His work has been performed at leading venues like Sadler’s Wells, The Place, and Royal Festival Hall among others. Si Rawlinson is a Resident Artist at Curve Theatre in Leicester and a lecturer at De Montfort University
“In Every Dollar, I was drawn to the story of William Astor, doing what he believed would make him a successful and respected man, never quite fitting in, always an immigrant, problematic in his own ways. The whole creative team discussed about the history of Astor and Two Temple, and working closely with An-Ting Chang, I developed movement from the music and audio narrative, and brought it to a green screen studio to be filmed.
The words that run through the digital halls of Two Temple Place in the performance follows Astor, and the echos of so many other generations of Chinese immigrants landing on foreign shores finding new homes, divided between becoming invisible and the performance of exoticism. The ideas shaped the choreography, from the gestures of relentless toil of the faceless labourers, the street performers with alluringly exotic painted-faces doing acrobatics in the old Limehouse Chinatown, the ever-present fear of ‘the yellow peril”, and flowing movement of identity from the basin of the Yellow River to the Thames.”