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5 of the best things to see at Chinese Arts Now Festival

Angela Hui

Chinese New Year is right round the corner. So what better way to ring in the Year of the Pig than to pig out on a whole series of Chinese theatre, dance, music, film, live art performances and even an augmented reality tour? The Chinese Arts Now Festival is all about improving representation of Chinese artists in the UK, and there’s a hell of a lot going on, so we’ve condensed the best of the fest into five manageable choices. You’re welcome.

1. Meet legendary drag king Whiskey Chow

Learn about the ancient deity of gay love, the Rabbit God, at this moving performance by London-based artist and Chinese drag king Whiskey Chow. ‘The Moon Is Warmer than the Sun’ explores female masculinity, politics, rebellion, the normalisation of queerness and stereotypes of Chinese/Asian identity, all set to a backdrop of experimental digital art. Get ready to have your wig snatched clean off. Toynbee Studios. Tube: Aldgate East. Jan 31, Feb 1. £12.

2. Eavesdrop on family gossip at an immersive theatre show

‘Citizens of Nowhere?’ invites audience members on a hilarious journey through a British-Chinese family’s conversation about identity and relationships. Using headsets, you’ll be right in the heart of the action and will be able to eavesdrop on the entire 45-minute performance while the story unfolds around you. Expect some laugh-out-loud drama that’ll put ‘EastEnders’ to shame. Tickets for performances will include drinks and nibbles from Duddell’s impressive high-end Cantonese menu. Prepare for the spilling of much tea. Duddell’s. Tube: London Bridge. Sat Jan 26, Jan 29,  Jan 30, Feb 2. Tickets from £19 including a tea or mocktail.


3. Discover new Chinese cinema

Get clued up on some of the best Chinese-language cinema, courtesy of the Chinese Visual Festival. We’ve got our eye on the UK premiere of the Hong Kong hit ‘Men on the Dragon’, the story of a group of middle-aged men attempting to form a dragon-boat-racing team, followed by a Q&A with the cast and director. A feelgood sports comedy to combat this grim and grey January landscape? Now that’s one boat we can all get on board with. BFI Southbank. Tube: Waterloo. Wed Jan 23, Fri Jan 25, Jan 31. From £10.20.


Go on an interactive digital tour of Chinatown

See a familiar part of central London from a different point of view with the eye-popping ‘Augmented Chinatown’ experience. Led by artist Donald Shek, the tour uses QR codes and an iOS app that bring video installations and digital sculptures to life. Moving from Rupert Street to Charing Cross Road, the tech-driven route will give you a glimpse into the past and future of Chinatown. Can’t make the tour? You can go analogue with a map of the installations – buy it from meeting spot the Guanghwa bookshop. Guanghwa bookshop, 112 Shaftesbury Avenue. Tube: Leicester Square. Thu Jan 24, Sat Jan 26, Jan 31 and Feb 2. £15. Download the app in advance.


5 See a blend of hip hop, comedy and spoken word at this one-woman show

In the wise words of Ronan Keating, ‘Life is a rollercoaster, just gotta ride it’, and that’s pretty much how you’ll feel about Alissa Anne Jeun Yi’s solo show. ‘Love Songs’ is a sometimes sweet, sometimes painful tale of hopeless romantic encounters. Jeun Yi walks her audience through everything from classroom crushes and the hyper-sexualisation of East Asian women to the hapless millennial dating scene, mixing dancefloor bangers and spoken word throughout. Sounds like one endearing DIY ride. Camden People’s Theatre. Tube: Warren St. Tue Jan 22-Sat Jan 26. £12. Chinese Arts Now runs until Feb 2.

Find out more about Chinese Arts Now Festival here

Busy this week? There’s three months worth of shows happening in Leake Street Tunnel for The Vaults arts festival 

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