A Door To Be Kicked
Great things happen when funding for deeply meaningful projects helps amazing ideas come to fruition.
In 1996, Nelsonite Fred Wah, former Parliamentary Poet Laureate, published a book called Diamond Grill. In 2018, Osprey Community Foundation funded a unique proposal, a joint effort with Kootenay Co-op radio, Touchstones Museum and other funders to help Fred create a radio play based on Diamond Grill with a further plan to workshop the process and build on Fred’s later works.
The resulting radio play, “A Door to be Kicked” is an amazing collaboration of talent and expertise.
Diamond Grill tells the story of his childhood in small town Nelson, embedded in his family’s two cultures, Chinese and Swedish. Fred’s straddled life gives rise to the Diamond Grill, Nelson’s newest and most modern Chinese café. The book depicts a life of dualities and distances—white enough to “pass” and Chinese enough to be victimized by white racism.
“I’m very gratified to see my work re-machined—it becomes a larger part of language—from
silent reading to spoken to a more dimensional work … and that listeners of the radio drama and readers of Diamond Grill, and viewers of the web based High Muck a Muck get to think deeply about racism, from within, as history, and as it is today,” says Fred.
According to Fred, the challenge of transforming a single voice work (Diamond Grill) into a multi-voiced play reading that moves back and forth in time, needed more than one person to achieve. Theatre aficionado, Bessie Wapp directed the play, and gathered vocal (and mostly local) talent from nearby corners as the actors—some professional and some newcomers to the microphone. Fred expressed how pleased he was that local Chinese readers were used to play Fred senior and the other restaurant worker.
Bessie Wapp(director), along with Terry Brennan (Capitol theatre and initial idea), Nicola Harwood (help to Fred with script writing), Catherine Fisher (producer), Don McDonald (music and sound technology), Brahm Taylor (played adult Fred) and the other script readers all converged their talents this past spring to give rise to live readings of “A Door to be Kicked” — a rich enough experience that anyone in the audience was right back in that 1950’s Diamond Grill café.
If you missed the live readings you will soon be able to hear the podcast, just keep your dial tuned to Kootenay Co-op Radio.