Who is Charlie? - Interview with Victoria Chen from Bhumi Collective

13 Nov 2018
Interview by Max Yam
Photos by Lesha Mansukhani

Bhumi Collective will be presenting the Singapore premiere of Charlie by Victoria Chen, after two successful runs at the Edinburgh Student Arts Festival and the On the Rocks Festival in 2017. The production is marketed as 'a 15-minute one-on-one experience in which the audience member enters a room and interacts with the titular twelve year old Charlie, who has spent the majority of her life within these four walls.' 

We are a little unsure of what to prepare for and expect from this one-on-one experience with a twelve-year-old girl, so we spoke to the creator-performer Victoria Chen for more insights.

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1. Is Charlie more about a person facing the world alone, or a fresh artist about to 'step into the big, scary world of casting’ (quoting your article published in Resonate on 4 May 2018)?

Thanks for reading my article! The answer is: neither. This experience is about the audience member and not about Charlie, who is basically the tabula rasa/ blank canvas on which the audience gets to shape the interaction and reflect upon their own life experience. They do this with someone who holds no prior beliefs or judgment, is old enough to converse and consider deep concepts, but is still young enough with a limited vocabulary.

2. Did you retain or reduce any Singaporean-ness in the UK show? Did you add more Singaporean-ness in the Singapore show? Or this isn't applicable?

Charlie is a girl without nationality. I try to keep her as neutral as possible, including the accent she uses to speak.

3. Is Charlie expecting well-prepared answers from the audience at her request to help shape her worldview?

Not at all! Often an audience member comes in not knowing what to say, but leaves finding the words. And sometimes an audience member comes in with something already prepared, but for some reason can’t say it. Charlie is definitely thrilled to hear about the world outside her room but she doesn’t know what she doesn’t know, and it’s up to the audience to shape that idea for her.

4. If I don’t have an answer to the complexities of the world, can I still attend this show?

Of course! This experience is completely open-ended and up to the audience. It is tailored to the person who shares the room with Charlie. Once, an audience member decided to teach her the alphabet, and someone talked about the moon, and there was a young lady who shared about what it meant to be in love. Only an open mind and heart is required to visit Charlie.

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by Bhumi Collective
Date: 20 Nov - 7 Dec 2018
Venue: Goodman Arts Centre Music Studio
Visit event page

  • Charlie

    Theatre 20 Nov - 7 Dec 2018 What would you say to an innocent child who has literally never seen the world? Bhumi Collective is delighted to...
    Goodman Arts Centre Music StudioGoodman Arts Centre Music Studio