Theater, Performance und Tanz in Hamburg - Kampnagel

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Living Dance Studio:
Listening to third grandmother's stories

 
  • © Richy Wong
  • © Richy Wong
  • © Richy Wong
  • © Richy Wong
Dance
  • Wed, 19.11.2014 20:00
    Chinese with English subtitles
    Kampnagel – K2
  • Thu, 20.11.2014 20:00
    Chinese with English subtitles
    Kampnagel – K2

"My third grandmother talks about her memories, beginning from the year 1940 to the present-day, her personal story in a very historical era. A story of a woman who has experienced different dynasties in her life, her life is essentially the history of Chinese women back then. She speaks of how she got married at the age of 12, gave birth to her first child at 14, and how her husband cheated on her with another woman when she was 20. She then experienced the liberation of China when she was 21, and the land reform policies at 22.The land reform period was a turning point in her life, changing her personal life into a communal life. I’m the opposite from my third grandmother, I grew up in China’s period of collectivism, growing up with my collective life. When I was growing up, I always questioned myself, what can I do to renew my personal experiences. Our memories are experiences of the body, how can these experiences transform society as well as history. My third grandmother and I are like two spirits standing in a tunnel. Her spiritgives me energy as we try our own methods to move closer to each other."

Wen Hui

Project Background

In February 2011, I went back to my father’s village to search for my family’s lost memories. The village is called Yi Men county in Yunnan Province, and my father hasn’t been back there in 50 years. During my trip I chanced upon an old lady, she is the sole surviving member of my father’s family, my third grandmother. Her name is Su Mei Lin, aged 83 from Shuang Bai county and she now lives in a small village called Da He Bian. I lived with my third grandmother for 3 weeks, helping her farm as well as listening to her stories from the past. Her recollections and thoughts were so clear, her memories so vivid and detailed. She spoke of how she got married to the Wen family at the age of 12, gave birth to her first child at 14, and how her husband cheated on her with another woman when she was 20. She experienced the liberation of China when she was 21, and land reform policies at 22. After the land reform her life changed, and through my interaction with her I realized that she was waiting for me all this time. Her first grand daughter was also named Wen Hui, sharing the same surname and name as me, but born a different year. Her first son was my father’s cousin. I heard that she was the one who named her first grand daughter Wen Hui, and my father had forgotten that he had a third aunt, my third grandmother. She didn’t realize that she had a nephew, whose daughter was also named Wen Hui. Perhaps this is what we call fate. While living with my third grandmother I began to plan a documentary film and a creative theatre performance. In May  2011, “Listening to My Third Grandmother’s Stories” was completed. I would never have thought this piece would have started at my third grandmother’s house.


  • Choreografie: Wen Hui
  • With: Li Xinmin Wen hui, Lao Xiujuan
  • Lighting Design: Eduard Steenbergen
  • Producer: Wu Wenguang
  • documentation: Wen Hui
  • Music: Wen Luyuan

Supported by: Kulturbehörde Hamburg aus Mitteln der Kultur- und Tourismustaxe im Rahmen von CHINA TIME HAMBURG 2014 and dem Goethe Institut.


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