Shuang Teng is an actor, producer and writer. Her acting credits include CAN’s “Overheard”; feature film “The Receptionist” (selected for the 2017 Edinburgh International, Raindance, Salento and Asian American Film Festivals), for which she also worked on as a producer, Shuang has recently started performing standup comedy.
This show explores the disparity between the external versus the internal. What happens when you are in hiding from your own feelings and thoughts? When you are hiding from both others and yourself? Having been born in China and then dropped in the middle of an English shire halfway through primary school, my personal experiences of growing up between the two worlds have led to crises of identity. It led to feelings of embarrassment for being different, feelings of guilt for being embarrassed in the first place and feelings of shame for not standing up for myself/my culture and for my wish to blend into the majority by deleting any behaviour I perceived as foreign. All these feelings swirling in my mind led to moments of confusion about who I am, of being pulled in seemingly opposing directions, of trying to hide these feelings and of being one thing on the surface but deep down, secretly wanting to be something else.
When I was growing up and going to school in middle-class suburbia, all the other girls wanted to grow up to be doctors, lawyers, artists, while I wanted to grow up to be a blonde white girl. A very ambitious goal but they do say that nothing is impossible if you just worked hard enough… and having worked very hard, I’m now proudly British and middle-class. I’d worked hard to remove anything I’d considered to be “non-British”. If only my face didn’t give it away… Growing up, I’d spent so much time watching and reading about little white girls (Enid Blyton, Lewis Carroll, CS Lewis) that I’d sometimes forget I wasn’t white. But on the inside, I secretly wished to be many cliched stereotypes just so that I can be a little bit more in touch with a part of me that I’d shoved way back into the dark recesses of my mind because I was more than a little bit ashamed of being different. But being different can feel so lonely and scary and what can a ten-year-old girl do when faced with questions like: “can you see anything out of your eyes, they so small?” and “did your mum sit on your face when you were born cos your face is so flat?”
My personal experience may be coloured by having dual cultural heritage but what almost everyone has experienced in life is the pull of the internal versus the external, how people will react on the outside versus what they are really thinking on the inside. The everyday battle between what you really think and what is “acceptable” to the rest of the world. Do you fantasize about telling that colleague to shove their stapler up somewhere; telling your partner that, no, that thing they do with their nose when they orgasm isn’t cute, it just makes them look constipated; rubbing your flatmate’s toothbrush around the toilet bowl in revenge after another passive-aggressive spat … is that too evil?
This show explores what happens when you hide so much of yourself that it can all threaten to explode like lava out of a volcano.