Daily Archives: April 4, 2009

REVIEW: “The C-Word” play is full of c-words: Chinese, Canadian, colou-blind, change, characters… “C” it for yourself!

What is the C-Word that is the meaning of life?

The C-Word cast
(Foreground, from left): Preet Cheema (Akesh Gill), Grace Chin (Kelly Cho), Sheryl Thompson (Ashley Hennessey).
(Background, from left): Fane Tse
(Steve Chung), Raahul Singh (Pal Prasad). Photo by Terry
Wong, courtesy of The C-word.

The C-Word
  April 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 2009
written by Grace Chin

at the
Playwrights Theatre Centre on Granville Island, Vancouver

The C-Word is an engaging play… even before you sit down in the seats.  What is the C-Word?  Is it for  Chinese?  Or the derogatory Chink word?  Does it mean Coloured?  Is it a four letter word that belongs below the belt?  One for male appendage, or for female anatomy?

Is the C-Word something more abstract, profound and perhaps “Complicated”?

Or is it “Compassion” or “Cheating”?

In the opening scene, “The Love Guru” is giving a seminar on how to get some action for his male clients.  Pal Prasad (played by Raahul Singh), gives a short talk about goals, and what it takes to follow through.  It's about intention and going after what you want.  It could be any personal development seminar, but this is about the C-word.

Next we meet girlfriends Kelly Cho and Akesh Gill played by Grace Chin and Preet Cheema.  They are on a shopping trip and talking about Kelly's upcoming wedding plans.  Soon we learn that Kelly has a live-in boyfriend named Steve Chung (Fane Tse) who is a yellow guy, while Akesh is single, but she doesn't like brown guys.

Things become complicated when Steve goes to see his old friend Pal to ask for some advice, and compare his relationship and impending marriage with Kelly to Pal's long term “open relationship” to a blonde woman named Ashley (Sheryl Thompsson).  What follows becomes an intercultural Vancouver-style dramedy of errors, innuendo, suppositions on the study of relationships. 

Excuse me… the proper words are cheating, commitment, compassion, change, comic and consolation – after all this is “The C-Word.”

“The C-Word” is the third play by Grace Chin.  Twisting Fortunes was co-written with her TF Productions partner Charlie Cho, and was a delightful comedic romp, set to Vancouver's caffeine drive.  “The Quickie“, Chin's first solo playwright experience, explored multicultural speed dating.  “The C-Word” goes to the next level, exploring a search for meaning in relationships.  This is Chin's most frank and sexual play to date, and hints at the darker sides of relationships and human nature, not to mention weddings.

In all three productions, Vancouver's multicultural society is the setting, but it is the intercultural nature of the characters where the culture clashes occur.  It's not just a Chinese-Canadian 2nd generation immigrant experience that is explored, but also South Asian this time around too.  And somehow this is juxtoposed with what might be mainstream Canadian or possibly alternative sexual lifestyles.

From the beginning, the characters are all interesting and engaging.  The topics are easily relateable to the audience… unless you don't have any friends of a different ethnicity, or have never dated.  The pacing is good, and the diaglogue never flags.

The casting all works.  Raahul Singh has fun being the egotistical “Love Guru” and his character makes reference to the Mike Myers movie.  More cultural references abound as character development exploration occurs when Kelly and Ashley try to figure each other out, and what their men may see in each other.  Here the extremely self-critical Kelly tries to get a handle on the brazen Ashely, she labels a “Samantha” compared to her “Miranda” – or is she really a Carrie Bradshaw?  Grace Chin actually displays a bit of each of the Sex in the City characters in her role of Kelly.

Much of the action revolves around Kelly and Pal, but while Steve's character seems stalled and doesn't give Fane Tse a big range to play with, Preet Cheema gets to push her character Akesh in the 2nd Act.  Supporting actors Lili Lau Cook and Vincent Cheng provide wonderfully surprising turns as Kelly's parents.  Mel Tuck directs this ensemble cast.

Previous productions

a take-out love story

an accidentally Asian romantic dramedy

Web: www.scriptingaloud.ca/cword

See previews in Review Vancouver and Vancouverplays.com.

Robert Burns in a Transatlantic Context: SFU events FREE to the public

SFU Centre for Scottish Studies hosts a global Robert Burns conference
2009_January 178 by you.
The 250th Anniversary of Robert Burns birth, was celebrated at the Burns statue in Stanley Park with an small informal celebration organized by Todd Wong (red vest) and Dr. Leith Davis (2nd row with purple shawl, behind her front row daughter in red skirt) – photo T. Wong

How does the poetry and songs of Robert Burns affect Canadians in West Coast Vancouver?

Dr. Leith Davis, director of the Centre for Scottish Studies, Simon Fraser University, has organized a conference about the global Robert Burns – titled “Robert Burns in a Transatlantic Context.”

Leith loved attending the 2009 Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner, and how we blended and juxtaposed Scottish, Chinese cultures with a Canadian twist and a seasoning of First Nations.  In planning her conference for Tartan Week, we wondered how to give a “Gung Haggis” experience to her conference attendees.  So for the Tuesday night evening of Robert Burns songs and poetry, A Musical Celebration of Burns in North America, she has invited Toddish McWong and Gung Haggis Fat Choy performers to give our “Rap to a Haggis”, a Chinese claper tale performance by Dr. Jan Walls set to a Robbie Burns poem, and a performance of Auld Lang Syne (with the first verse sung in Mandarin Chinese) augmented with our parade dragon and Chinese Lions.  Deep-fried haggis wontons will hopefully be served along with haggis on Tuesday evening. 

On Wednesday afternoon, I will be part of the Community Research Forum of “Burns in BC.” – where I will talk about the history and development of Gung Haggis Fat Choy, and how it inspired both a CBC TV television Gung Haggis Fat Choy performance special and the SFU Gung Haggis Fat Choy Festival.

2009_January 261 2009 SFU Gung Haggis Fat Choy Festival features “dragon cart racing” invented by yours truly – photo Todd Wong.

How did I first meet Dr. Davis?

After brief email introductions, I called her with the idea of a wreath laying ceremony at the Burns statue in Vancouver's Stanley Park to mark the 250th Anniversary of Burn's birth.

We emailed and talked by phone and organized some activities, but we didn't meet in person until after she had spent 2 weeks in Scotland for the 2009 Homecoming activities, and arrived back in Vancouver on January 25th, and came to Stanley Park for our planned event, which her husband and two children were already present at.

That evening she and her husband were guests of honour at the 2009 Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner.  Leith gave “the immortal address” and marvelled at all the songs, guests, food and performances at the Gung Haggis Dinner, and especially at the impromptu ceremonial cutting of the haggis by Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson.

Please check out the free public events for the:

SFU's Centre for Scottish Studies presents

“Robert Burns in a Transatlantic


Public events:


Tuesday, April 7th

Doors open at 6:30 p.m.; concerts starts at 7:00

A Musical Celebration of 
Burns in
North America

Jon Bartlett and Rika Ruebsaat, 
“Burns Songs in BC”

Kirsteen McCue and David Hamilton, 
“Burns Songs Set by Serge Hovey”

Gung Haggis Fat Choy Performers

Scottish Cultural Centre,
8886 Hudson Street , Vancouver


Wednesday, April 8th, 3:00 – 3:30 p.m.

Michael Russell, Scottish Minister for Culture,
External Affairs
and the Constitution

Scotland and
the Scottish Diaspora”

Room 1425
SFU Harbour
Centre, 515 West Hastings Street ,

Wednesday, April 8th, 3:45 – 5:00 p.m.

Community Research Forum on 
“Burns in BC”

Room 2200
SFU Harbour
Centre, 515 West Hastings Street ,


Wednesday, April 8th, 7:00 p.m.

Lecture: Dr. Robert Crawford, 
“Writing Burns’s

Room 1400,
SFU Harbour
Centre (reception to follow)


Thursday, April 9th, 3:00-4:30 p.m.

Workshop: “Connecting Diasporas: 
Scotland, Asia and the Caribbean ”

Room 2200, Harbour Centre,
515 West Hastings Street , Vancouver


All events are free and open to the public. 

Please contact Ron Sutherland to reserve a seat:



Sponsored by SFU’s Centre for Scottish Studies;
the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada; and the
Vancouver Burns Club

A Musical Celebration of Robert Burns in North America – organized by SFU Centre for Scottish Studies

Tuesday, April 7th

Doors open at 6:30 p.m.; concerts starts at 7:00 p.m.

A Musical Celebration of 
Burns in North America

Jon Bartlett and Rika Ruebsaat, 
“Burns Songs in BC”

Kirsteen McCue and David Hamilton, 
“Burns Songs Set by Serge Hovey”

Gung Haggis Fat Choy Performers

Scottish Cultural Centre, 8886 Hudson Street, Vancouver