“Rich in detail, politically astute and powerful . . . Shadows illuminates the ‘stains’ which make us human and the ‘shadows’ of history which continue to haunt.” —The Sydney Morning Herald
Extraordinary stories come to life in William Yang’s intimate monologues—part social documentary, part personal observation, told with arresting images and an eye for detail. In Shadows, Yang combines his original photography with found images stowed away over generations by different families to spin an engrossing web of stories, from the personal to the political, spanning two continents in an emotionally absorbing performance. Shadows will be performed Wednesday–Thursday, March 12–13, at 8 pm in the Walker Art Center’s William and Nadine McGuire Theater. Understated, peppered with wry humor, and visually striking, Shadows is a textured pilgrimage of global proportions. Accompanying Yang’s monologue are hundreds of photographic slides and the original vocal and instrumental music of Colin Offord.
Through intimate details, Yang uncovers universal themes of suffering under ignorance and fear and the need for understanding and healing. There is the story of a young Aboriginal man and the changes faced by his community over the course of a decade; and the story of the persecution and internment of South Australia’s German community during the World Wars that leads us to present-day Berlin and the global need for reconciliation.
Shadows was co-commissioned by Sydney Festival, Adelaide Festival, and the Perth International Arts Festival.
William Yang, a third generation Chinese-Australian, studied architecture at the University of Queensland. In 1969 he moved to Sydney, where he became involved with an experimental theater group, worked as a playwright from 1969-1974, and then as a freelance photographer. His first solo exhibition in 1977, Sydneyphiles, was a frank depiction of the Sydney party scene. Later, these photographs formed part of a larger exhibition, Sydney Diary, and in 1984 Yang published a book under this same title.
Yang began performing his monologues with slide projection in 1989, integrating his skills as a writer and visual artist. This unique theatrical style has taken Yang throughout Australia and to Europe, Asia, and North America to perform such acclaimed shows as Sadness, Friends of Dorothy, The North, Shadows, Objects for Meditation, and most recently China. In 1999 Sadness was adapted into an award-winning film directed by Tony Ayres and shown at film festivals around the world. Objects for Meditation, co-commissioned by Sydney Opera House & Kunsten Festival des Arts in Brussels, has been performed in Oslo, Villeurbanne, and at the Centre Dramatique de l’Ocean Indien on Reunion Island.
In addition to staging his monologues, Yang has presented more than 20 individual exhibitions of his photographs worldwide. In 1993, he was awarded International Photographer of the Year at the Higashigawa-cho International Photographic Festival in Japan and received an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by the University of Queensland in 1998 for his services to photography. A 1998 retrospective at the State Library of New South Wales highlighted Yang as a social historian of the times.
Tickets to William Yang’s Shadows are $20 ($16 Walker members) and are available at walkerart.org/tickets or by calling 612.375.7600.