Centre stage

Luke Parker
Centre stage

Life for mother, paediatrician, researcher and playwright Renee Liang is one full-on adventure – and it’s set to get a whole lot busier when her two new plays hit the stage this summer.

The Two Farting Sisters and Under the Same Moon will premiere at the Wellington and Auckland Fringe Festivals this February and March.

Renee LiangOf Chinese descent, Renee was born in Auckland after her parents emigrated from Hong Kong in the 1970s and says both plays touch on her Chinese cultural roots.

The 41-year-old wrote The Two Farting Sisters from an old Chinese folktale her dad used to read to her as a child and will use 3D puppetry, shadow puppetry and live action.

“I would describe it as a quirky comedic adaptation of a folktale,” Renee says. “I re-wrote it and instead of two brothers in a village in rural China, it’s set in a market garden in Levin with two sisters. It’s transported to the modern day with modern values but the base of the story remains the same.”

Told by an all-female cast, the play celebrates the rich multicultural landscape of New Zealand through the eyes of a feisty young heroine, ultimately delivering a powerful message of generosity and ingenuity in the face of adversity.

Renee grew up in Auckland and says from an early age she naturally gravitated toward writing and flourished in primary and secondary school, winning writing awards and coming top of the class in English.

The Two Farting Sisters“I was writing a lot of poetry, short-fiction and a novel.”

After leaving school, she focused her energy on becoming a doctor and graduated from the University of Auckland with a medical degree, later specialising in paediatrics.

“I didn’t write much for around 10 years but started again after my then de facto partner’s sudden death. The writing helped me get through it and eventually I began to write for theatre as well.”

Renee’s second play, Under the Same Moon, looks at a family matriarch dealing with dementia.

“She knows that sooner or later she’s going to lose all her memories and is feeling the pressure to pass them on to her family. But in the process, she stirs up all these other family dynamics when she unexpectedly shows up from China to attend her granddaughter’s wedding in New Zealand. It’s a warm and illuminating look at the inside lives of New Zealand Chinese families. And yes, it’s meant to be funny and quirky!”

undersamemoon resizedThe mother-of-two says she tends to write family dramas which look at how people respond to different life situations and events. She says that the skills required for medicine and writing are actually similar.

“In my writing I look at life stories in quite a light-hearted way but there’s usually quite a lot of depth underneath,” she says. “My hope is to take the audience along with me making them laugh first and think about it later.”

The playwright says she has so many ideas buzzing around in her head and believes there’s no point making a theatre show or any other piece of writing unless it reflects something about our society.

“I think plays are powerful because they’re quite immediate, they’re live action,” Renee says. “They’re also responsive because our final and most important ingredient is the audience. The actors feed off the audience’s energy which changes every single night.”


The Two Farting Sisters

Bats Theatre - as part of the NZ Fringe Festival 2015
1 Kent Terrace, Wellington
February 17 – February 22, 2015
Matinee - Saturday February 21, 2015
Bookings: http://bats.co.nz or call (04) 802-4175

Musgrove Studio, Musgrove Theatre - as part of the Chinese Lantern Festival and Auckland Fringe Festival 2015
8 Alfred St, Auckland City
February 24 – March 7, 2015
Matinees - TBC
Bookings: http://www.maidment.auckland.ac.nz or call (09) 308-2383


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Under the Same Moon

Bats Theatre - as part of Chinese New Year Festival and the NZ Fringe Festival 2015
1 Kent Terrace, Wellington
February 10 – 21, 2015
Bookings: http://bats.co.nz or call (04) 802-4175

Musgrove Theatre - as part of the Chinese Lantern Festival and Auckland Fringe Festival 2015
8 Alfred St, Auckland City
February 24 – March 7, 2015
8:00pm + weekend matinees
Bookings: http://www.maidment.auckland.ac.nz or call (09) 308-2383

$16 - $18 Adult
$14 Groups & concession
$12 Child
Corporate, group and family deals available – see website or contact Renee at docrnz@gmail.com, 021-265-9131 or www.samemoon.nz

Renee Liang

Renee produces her own work under the theatre company moniker, O.Co. and is represented as a playwright by Playmarket NZ.
She holds a Master of Creative Writing and a Post Graduate Diploma in Arts (Theatre Writing) from the University of Auckland, a medical degree and a specialist qualification as a paediatrician.
More recently she has done short courses in theatre devising with Red Leap Theatre, Bert Van Dijk and John Bolton.
For her activities in arts, science and medicine, Renee was named a Sir Peter Blake Emerging Leader in 2010.
She won the Royal Society Manhire Prize in Science Writing for Creative Non-Fiction in 2012. Her play The Quiet Room was shortlisted for the Adam Play Award in 2013, and won the Teen section of Playmarket’s Plays for the Young in 2014. Her plays Under The Same Moon and The Two Farting Sisters (a play for children) will premiere in 2015. Paper Boats, a large scale work for female actors, is under development in partnership with Auckland Live.

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