THE Love Season will soon set hearts pulsing at York Theatre Royal, where the Step 3 reopening will make its mark with Love Bites: a love letter to live performance and a toast to the city’s creative talent.
More than 200 artists from a variety of art forms applied for £1,000 love-letter commissions to be staged on May 17 – the first day that theatres can reopen after restrictions are lifted – and May 18.
The 22 short pieces selected will be performed each night at 8pm under the overall direction of Theatre Royal creative director Juliet Forster. Each “bite” will take hold for five minutes.
In the third in a series of CharlesHutchPress Q&As, Japanese English actor Erika Noda has five minutes to discuss her Love Bite, Ai, her semi-autobiographical debut solo writing project.
How did you hear about Love Bites, Erika?
“I work as a youth theatre assistant at York Theatre Royal and heard about Love Bites from Kate Veysey, the director of youth theatre. I then went online and looked it up straightaway.”
What is your connection with York?
“I was born in York and lived here most of my life. My family, on my mum’s side, can be traced back generations in the city. I know my four-times great grandad came to York from Rosedale and was a nightwatchman before he became a police sergeant and lived with his family in Micklegate Bar.”
What will feature in your Love Bite, Ai, and why?
“A true and honest account of what it can be like for someone of dual heritage in a predominantly white city. With the Black Lives Matter movement and the escalation of hate crimes against East and Southeast Asian people this past year, it made me think about my own experiences of microaggression and racism, as well as the importance of self-acceptance and self-love.
“It’s important to bring awareness to microaggression because many people are unknowingly hurting others through their words and actions.”
What has been the best and the worst about growing up with dual heritage?
“I’d say the worst part is the racist comments and microaggressions. Through doing this project, I’ve come to realise how deeply emotionally affected I am by what people have said or done.
“It’s so degrading and belittling, it’s like a pin stabbing you in the heart; it hurts but you can survive if it happens once or twice, but if it keeps happening over and over eventually you collapse and you don’t know if you’ll get up again.
“Some of the best things about being dual heritage, for me, is that I’ve been immersed in different cultures since I was born. I was two years old when I first went to Japan and was eating with chopsticks from the age of eight.
“I love how it enables me to understand other people’s experiences and ways of life. I’ve also been fortunate that I’m able to travel and experience other parts of the world and cultures for myself.”
In lockdown, what have you missed most about theatre?
“I miss being on stage and taking theatre to those who may not usually get the opportunity to experience it. After graduating from East 15 Acting School I co-founded a theatre company that specialised in creating sensory shows and workshops for children and young people with complex needs.
“We had planned to tour in Summer 2020 but due to the pandemic it had to be cancelled and an online digital story was created instead.
“I miss the adrenaline rush and feeling of having just done a performance and how rewarding it can be. I also miss watching theatre and being transported to another world.”
What’s coming next for you?
“In terms of acting and creating, I don’t have any set plans yet, but I’ll be keeping an eye out for the next opportunity. Also, I’m working at an immersive art gallery that’s been closed due to lockdowns and now it’s able to open so I expect I’ll be busy there this summer.”
What would be the best way to spend five minutes if you had a choice?
“Other than watching Love Bites, I would have a brew and a catch-up with my friends because I haven’t seen them in ages.”
Tickets for Love Bites cost Pay What You Feel at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk or on 01904 623568.