Last Saturday our Chinese speaking team member, Wilfred, was invited to a theatre play presented by the Chinese Cancer and Chronic Illness Society (CCCIS) at the Doncaster Playhouse. It was a theatre play produced, conducted and performed entirely by volunteers and friends of the CCCIS. The play discussed death, memorialisation and other end-of-life related matters openly through a comical but loving narrative. CCCIS’s president Dorothy Yiu has been supporting our past and present research enthusiastically and a strong working relationship had been established.
The story set in an ordinary Chinese migrant family living in Melbourne, Australia. It began as the usual post-dinner chats between the elderly parents and their adult children but a breaking news about a road accident in a nearby intersection also broke the barrier in the family to talk about death and end-of-life related matters. The atmosphere was hardly intense but the conversations were serious and genuine. A range of topics such as the wish of memorialisation, choice of funeral services, and the preparations of wills and the power of attorney, were thoroughly discussed and presented to the audience. Both parents and children open up their minds about how to face death, a natural but also inevitable process of human life, created an intriguing reflection about life, selfhood, dignity and family harmony.
The play was clearly well received with full house attendance for the Cantonese session. Audiences’ reception worths our attention, too. There were full of laughter but constantly, a quick mumble and discussions about individuals’ own preferences and desire could be over-heard between friends and families. No one seemed to be afraid or felt uncomfortable about the topic – of course, the fact that they made the decision of watching this play on sunny Saturday afternoon already showed to us their desire and willingness to learn, explore and face a very important topic of human life.