A Play by David East
Directed by Tian Brown-Sampson | Dramaturgy by Frey Kwa Hawking
Welcome to Beijing. Population: 21 million. Plus four Brits. Lost Laowais follows the intertwining lives of four expats in one of Asia’s largest metropolises and asks: can Westerners ever find a home in Chinese society?
(Lǎowài 老外. Noun. Colloquial term for a foreigner, literally 'old outsider'.)
While translator Julian is looking for a flatmate, he meets Lisa, a British-born Chinese woman who has abruptly upended her life to teach English in a country that is quickly turning out not to live up to her expectations. Their initial meeting turns into a clash regarding the politics of China’s expatriate population. Meanwhile, celebrated writer and ‘old China hand’ Robert is beginning to tire of twenty years of feeling like an outsider. And ‘third culture kid’ Ollie is chafing under the pressures of overbearing diplomat parents whose lifestyle sees them uprooting their lives and moving across the world every few years. As the characters’ lives collide, Lost Laowais asks: how does the West approach China in the 21st century? And have we really moved on from our colonialist past?
Lost Laowais is the debut play of actor/writer David East (A Kind of Loving, Brockley Jack/Be Born, Space Theatre), produced in association with Eschaton Theatre. The play is due to take place 4-9 February 2020 at the VAULT Festival, London.
David is a former Beijing resident, and Lost Laowais is a love letter to a city like no other. It first appeared as a scene in Pok Fu Lam Road Productions' sold-out showcase "Foreign Goods" at the Arcola Theatre in January 2018. Since then, the play has grown into a full 60-minute piece.
Eschaton Theatre is exploring a number of options for funding, including crowdfunding. All crowdfunding proceeds will go towards the production budget of the play, including payment for the cast and creative team.
About Writer David East
David East trained at ArtsEd after studying Chinese at SOAS, University of London. Lost Laowais is his playwriting debut. Previous stage credits include A Kind of Loving (Brockley Jack) and Be Born (Space Theatre). Previous film credits include Bao Bao and The White Room. Follow him at @davideastuk
About Director Tian Brown-Sampson
Tian is British-Caribbean theatre and movement director, writer and performer. Since graduating from SOAS, University of London, Tian has chosen to apply focus to particularly Black, South East Asian and East Asian theatre work and working to promote diversity and representation on stage and in positions of power and leadership. Tian is a member of the Young Vic’s Director’s Programme and an Associate Artist of Papergang Theatre. Directing credits include: Like Yesterday (Young Vic), Sentenced to Silence (Camden Fringe), Jollof Court (Bunker Theatre); RWR: The Embalmers and RWR: The Lost Boys (Theatre503); and Still Born (Platform Islington).
About Dramaturg Frey Kwa Hawking
Frey Kwa Hawking is a dramaturg and writer, and a regular reviewer for Exeunt Magazine and The Stage. He has been involved with work shown at venues including Nottingham Playhouse, Bunker Theatre, Camden People's Theatre and Greenwich Theatre, and is a part of the Royal Court's 2019 Script Panel. His play Death Grip was produced at the Michael Pilch Studio (Oxford) in 2016.
(Photos from an extract performed as part of Pokfulam Road Productions‘ sold-out Foreign Goods Part 3 at the Arcola Theatre, January 2018. Directed by Madison Maylin, with David East as Julian, Stephanie Van Driesen as Lisa, Charlotte Chiew as Waitress. Photo credit: Joe Magowan)