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Set and Costume Designer for
Trikhon Theatre's
Rice Paper Tales

Performed at Deptford Lounge, Mac Birmingham and The Viet School

Directed and Written by - Anna Nguyen and Mingyu Lin

Music by - Cheong Li

Performed by - Ashley Alyman and

Jo Calderwood

Rice Paper Tales was a modern adaption of  Three Traditional Vietnamese Fairy Tales: How The Tiger Got His Stripes, The Star Fruit Tree and The Magic Pencil.

The first few performances of this touring show was in Deptford (South East London) which is home  to one of the biggest communities of Vietnamese in the U.K. Anna who is second generation Vietnamese wanted the production to mix traditional Vietnamese style with Western elements. It was important to stay away from stereotypes and present a show rich in creativity that would appeal to a diverse audience.

I was invited round to have Vietnamese porridge at Anna's mum's house at the start of the project and we explored her garden that was filled with homemade trellises growing a delicious array of vegetables, plants and herbs. This homemade 'feel' was key to the design of the show. Many Vietnamese people (Anna told me) are very resourceful and use to surviving under extreme conditions. They also have the ability to make their surroundings look beautiful, enabled by a rich tradition of craftsmanship.

Details of the Flats
Anna's Mum
Making Vines in the Work Shop
Hand Making the Bamboo Trellis
Details of the Flats
Inspiration in the garden

Due to the nature of this touring show the set needed to create an immersive environment that would transport the audience into a fairy tale land, whether it was in the community space of Deptford Lounge and The Viet School or in the theatre space at Birmingham Mac. Four brightly coloured flats with a home made bamboo trellis for each one  teamed with hand made vine leaves enabled this perfectly.

Colour Ways and Illustrations of the Pop-Up Set

The white card model

Colour Experimentation

The Costumes for the show combined Eastern and Western elements. The Tiger Costume had the silhouette of a traditional Vietnamese dress called an 'Ao Dai' which was accessorised with Nike Trainers purchased from Deptford market.

Tiger Costume before the stripes!

Tiger Costume with the stripes

Hand painting tiger stripes in the studio

Dress Fitting with Jo - Her Tiger costume was made from scratch as she had to have a costume 'reveal' in front of the audience

The Raven Mask was made from

recycled materials, including a pair

of jeans and ping pong balls 

The Raven Costume