Ira Pittelman & Allan Buchman
BORDER/CLASH: A Litany of Desires
Written and Performed by STACEYANN CHIN
The Culture Project, 45 Bleecker St., NYC, June 16 - August 7, 2005
Directed by ROB URBINATI
Set and Lighting Design GARIN MARSCHALL
Sound Design EMILY WRIGHT
Press Representative OPR/ORIGLIO PUBLIC RELATIONS
In a NYC theater climate where current and recent productions have included several one woman shows, the skeptical may wonder just what Ms. Staceyann Chin has to add to the pot, and whether her show merits attendance regardless of what has come before. Well, BORDER/CLASH: A Litany of Desires is certainly Staceyann Chinís particular life story. However, her still evolving tale of a half-Chinese, half-black Jamaican born lesbian who left her homeland in search of acceptance and safety in a town called New York City is compelling not only for its relative singularity, but because it is just so well conveyed.
Staceyann Chin is the kind of person who has taken the trials in her life and channeled them into poignant performance art. Recounting the pains of her youth with the same humor she affords subjects like letters written to ex-lovers, and what it was like to receive a Tony Award at Radio City Music Hall, Chin draws the crowd in with skill and wit. Yet BORDER/CLASH is by no means fluff. Chin relates very personal details of her life. Her "Chinaman" father denied she was his, and he may or may not have raped her mother, who was said to have been with him for monetary advantage. Both Chin and her brother were abandoned by their mother. As a late teen/early adult, Ms. Chin slept with men, but her realization that she is gay, a crime in Jamaica, led to a college campus assault that was very nearly a gang rape intended to cure her of her "illness." On that subject alone, I could write pagesÖ
Somehow, Chin relates her experiences without making her audience uncomfortable. Edgy? Yes. Tense? Yes. But I was with her every word of the way, often quite amused by her sophisticated retorts and observations. Aided in her efforts, Chinís BORDER/CLASH employs appropriate lighting, a colorful set, and the kind of direction that can rein in a performer, like Staceyann Chin, who could probably talk all night without taking much of a break at all.
I found BORDER/CLASH: A Litany of Desires to be rather impressive indeed. Staceyann Chin has a voice that not only needs to be, but must be heard in a world where people are still being killed for the color of their skin, their choice of deity, or for who they happen to love. Ms. Chin is invigorating, and she never pretends to be anything other than a work that is still in progress.
- Kessa De Santis -