Artist Shannan Lim talks The Yonder, diversity and original storytelling
Diversity, race and migration are all things that interest Shannan Lim, a Singaporean filmmaker, theatre-maker and performer based here in Melbourne.
Joined by Irish comic Elizabeth Davie and Turkish actor Ezel Dorukand, Lim’s new show, The Yonder, is set to debut at this year’s Melbourne Fringe. It is the concluding third part of a trilogy that has explored all these ideas; first starting with Lim’s award-winning Asian Ghost-ery Store in 2015 which was then followed up by Salty earlier this year.
“We intended it to be like a series of three plays and each one is about different aspect of race, culture and migration,” Lim said.
Each entry in the trilogy thus far has included an element of the absurd, the macabre and the humorous. The Yonder, for example is, as Lim described, “a physical comedy theatre show and it’s about a spaceship carrying the last few people on earth”. Other shows have included sex vampires, stillborn fetuses and ghosts.
Yet despite the content of his shows, Lim maintains that he is actually a serious individual.
“I just like the idea that sometimes I could be funny on stage,” he said.
He owed that on-stage humour to his mother, whose fondness for classic slapstick comedy helped develop aspects of his new show.
“Growing up my mum really enjoyed comedies and comedians. She really liked Lucille Ball from I Love Lucy. I watched a lot of classic comedians — very slapstick and funny faces.”
After moving from Singapore to Australia at the age of ten, Lim quickly learned he had a passion for filmmaking and the arts and soon devoted his studies and his career towards these interests. After graduating from the University of Western Australia with a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology, he continued his studies by further completing a Master of Design at RMIT University.
Lim also built on his appreciation of slapstick comedy by training with Chicago’s The Second City, the famous improvisational comedy group whose alumni include famous names like Tina Fey, Bill Murray, Stephen Colbert, Steve Carrell and many more. He also took up clowning classes École Gaulier in Paris.
He has been active in the creative industry for the last ten years exploring different types of artistic endeavors.
“I have mostly done my whole creative career in Australia. My work is partly Asian and partly Aussie. I’m an Asian-Australian artist.”
As an artist in Australia with an Asian background, he sees the importance of including his culture into his performances.
“To be a minority… there are more disadvantages but the positive is that when I do shows like the Asian Ghost-ery showcasing Asian culture, that’s interesting for people, so I think you have these sort of stories that distinct yourself to the rest of the population.”
For young people of colour who hope to follow a similar path as Lim’s in the creative arts, he acknowledges that while there are a lot of oppurtunities to do so here in Australia, being authentic to who you are and your experiences is the key to getting your work seen.
“Many companies and organisations are very interested in programming diverse work not just in performance. People are always looking for diversity. They don’t want the same old stories,” Lim advised.
“I think it’s important that you stay true to yourself and the stories you want to tell.”
Shannan Lim’s show, The Yonder, is part of this year’s Melbourne Fringe festival and will be performed at The Lithuanian Club at The Loft (44 Errol St, North Melbourne). The show will be on from Saturday, September 23 to Saturday, September 30.
Meld readers can use the discount code ‘BERYLLIUM’ for $18 tickets to see The Yonder (expires September 22). Full price tickets are $25, concession $20.
For more information on The Yonder, visit the event’s page over at Melbourne Fringe’s official website.