Dim Sum Diaries: Second Helping showcases Chinese Canadians diverse experiences

Fabulist Theatre’s new play Dim Sum Diaries: Second Helping showcases the diverse experiences of Chinese Canadians. The production offers scenes and monologues written by Kevin Chong, Aaron Jan, Dale Lee Kwong, Mark Leiren-Young, Yvette Lu, Minh Ly, Louisa Phung Suk Yee, and Kenneth Tynan. The play will be directed by Damon Bradley Jang.

The all-star Chinese Canadian cast features Liam Ma (Apple TV+’s Streams Flow From A River), Kyle Toy (The Arrangement, Centre Stage 2) Aurora Chan (United Players’ Vietgone, Chimerica, VACT’s Flower Drum Song), and introduces Jane Loy and Sheridan Music Theatre graduate Mikayla Kwan. Cultural support work is provided by Megan Wong of Principal Intimacy Professionals and Wing Chi, who is also the assistant director.

Dim Sum Diaries: Second Helping showcases Chinese Canadians diverse experiences

The premiere gala and preview will take place on March 22, 2024, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Chinatown Storytelling Centre, the presenting sponsor, in Vancouver. Gala tickets are $60 through their Facebook page at Eventbrite at www.eventbrite.ca, or their Wix website fabulisttheatre.wixsite.com/fabulist. The event includes a dim sum, a silent auction, cash bar. UBC Learning Exchange is also a community sponsor. A workshop production run will take place at the NEST on Granville Island from March 26 – 30th, 2024. Tickets are available through Facebook at app.ticketowl.io on a sliding scale from $18 to $38.

The theatre has launched a GoFundMe to cover $5,000 of the $18,000 in production costs.

The play is an eclectic mix of theatre, deeply personal biographical accounts, satire, and fantastical elements. At its heart, Dim Sum Diaries: Second Helping is a modern, fresh look at what it means to be Chinese Canadian in a post-COVID world. A gay man struggles with racism in the queer community. A neurodivergent woman yearns to break through the “bamboo ceiling.” Healthcare workers express their frustrations navigating the pandemic. A third-generation pick-up artist capitalizes on his peers’ desire for traditional relationships. A biracial baker and transracial adoptees struggle with connecting to their culture and identity. A Hong Kong immigrant is considering selling her East Vancouver home to a charming real estate agent.

The new work is an official sequel to Mark Leiren-Young’s 1991 radio play Dim Sum Diaries. The first Dim Sum Diaries explored how Vancouverites felt about the influx of immigrants moving to Vancouver from Hong Kong, and its impact on the city, from both white and Asian perspectives. The project was met with controversy when it aired on CBC Radio without adequate context.

John Juliani and Donna Wong-Juliani commissioned Leiren-Young’s initial radio drama through their company Savage God for CBC’s Morningside, in the hopes that it could spark further conversation and inspire others to share this experience. This project honours John Juliani’s legacy and impact on Canadian theatre. A great Canadian theatre performer, director, producer and creator, Juliani passed away in 2003 of liver cancer at the age of 63. His widow, Donna Wong-Juliani, who is Chinese Canadian, has provided support for this project.

Fabulist Theatre was founded by Damon Bradley Jang and Mary Littlejohn in 2016. Cofounder Mary Littlejohn is an award-winning interdisciplinary artist who has performed in Vancouver, New York, and Australia. She is a graduate of Capilano University’s Musical Theatre program and lives in Nanaimo. Damon Bradley Yung, Cofounder is a performer, arts publicist, and educator. He is also a graduate of the Capilano University Musical Theatre program.

Fabulist Theatre’s inaugural production was Songs For A New World, Jason Robert Brown’s examination of the defining moments in our lives. It was produced at the PAL Studio Theatre in March/April of 2017. Since then the company has presented new and innovative productions of shows including Dim Sum Diaries and Once On This Island, and created new shows Better Than This: The Evolution of Women In Musicals and The Untold Legend of Imogen Flight. Fabulist Theatre has also presented a wide range of cabarets and concerts primarily online during COVID-19. Past productions have also included All Together Now, Friends of Dorothy, and Dracula: A Modern Radio Play.

According to their website, the company, “is a professional non-profit theatre company run by passionate individuals who are dedicated to bringing provocative new works, and re-imagined classics works to the Vancouver stage and beyond. We are dedicated to involving people from all backgrounds in our casting and the creative process.”

Their mandate is “to provide opportunities to performers of all races, ages, genders, and abilities. We will perform works that are rarely performed. We strive to tell everyone’s stories and create new platforms to nurture the widespread talent in our city.”