This weekend, Tick Tock – no, not the app, but the directorial duo – presents their second offering to Winnipeg audiences.
Bringing together a diverse and vibrant group of artists, “Beyond the Accident” of time marks the solemn centenary of a black mark in the country’s history.
On July 1, 1923, the Chinese Immigration Act or "Chinese Exclusion Act" was passed. A discriminatory and reprehensible bill that remained in place for 23 years.
“During this time, the day, July 1, was known not as Dominion Day – as it was called at the time – but it was known among the Chinese community as ‘Humiliation Day,’” explains Naomi Woo.
Woo, well-known in Winnipeg for her work as a conductor and pianist, along with collaborator Sasha Amaya, a dancer, choreographer and interdisciplinary artist, together form Tick Tock Performance. Complimenting each other's skillsets, they focus on sonic and choreographic performance to produce, interpret, and devise works of opera, dance, and physical theatre.
“We're able to have these very complex and valuable conversations,” says Amaya. “To challenge each other to try to bring together these two worlds and understand together how the histories of art can still be meaningful today.”
Presenting three performances (one on Friday, two on Saturday), this latest endeavour features music by two composers: Winnipeg-based Ashley Au and Kanaki Maoli (Native Hawaiian) composer Leilehua Lanzilotti.
After first being heard in the nation’s capital on June 23, Au’s choral work – titled “Never Forget July 1st" – will be performed in Winnipeg for the first time. The commission features a text written as part of a song competition which was held in 1923 protesting the Chinese Exclusion Act.
“For the 100th anniversary, Au has recreated music to bring these protest lyrics back to life,” says Amaya.
It was through Woo’s father that the duo became aware of the text and they were quick to engage Au as the composer to set it “because she’s an incredible composer,” says Woo, noting another poignant reason.
“She has a grandfather who paid a head tax in 1947 and so I thought the combination of her family connection to the material and her incredible compositional skills would make a perfect fit.”
The other work on the program was written to honour artist Isamu Noguchi’s never fully realized ‘Bell Tower for Hiroshima” – a sculpture that was to feature bells from around the world.
“In keeping with Noguchi’s idea that the bells in his sculpture would come from all over the world, Lanzilotti imagines that her piece should be performed all over the world by bells that are really specific and local to the places where they’re being performed,” explains Woo.
Local musician and musicologist Queveen Arcedo will perform on a traditional Filipino Saraonay he crafted himself.
“(The instrument) has a really beautiful bright tone,” says Woo, noting that Arcedo grew up in Winnipeg. “We’re really happy that this has a special resonance here.”
Other performers include Angie Mojica, Anny Chen, Bailey Chin, Brady Barrientos, GiUng Lee, Johanna Hildebrand, John Hirst Anderson, Kris Cahatol, Matthew Knight, and Xi Yin.
Performances take place on Friday, June 30 on the southside of the Legislative Building, by the Riel Statue (7 p.m.), Saturday, July 1 at Stephen Juba Park (6:15 p.m.), and a final performance at the Chinese Gardens, part of Winnipeg Chinese Cultural & Community Centre (7:30 p.m.)
For more information, visit: www.tt-tt-tt.com
To learn more about the Chinese Exclusion Act, visit: www.chineseexclusioncentenary.ca