I wanna be (made)

by Cornelia Rainer | Theater Dschungel Vienna 2012
Gunda Dittrich

"My teachers always told me:
A trained body is essential for us.
You train your body like a machine.
If you fall down, you start all over again.
You have to sculpt your body.
The more it hurts, the better.
The more you have to smile. Always smile."
Yang Ji

An interaction between Chinese dancer Jang Yi and nine Viennese children and teenagers between the ages of seven and fourteen. Awarded the prize of the BMUKK.

In 2005, Cornelia Rainer spent several weeks as a guest student at the National Junior College of Performing Arts in Taipei, the only Peking Opera training center in Taiwan. Peking Opera is a traditional Chinese art form which combines elements of Theater, martial arts, singing, dance, and acrobatics. During her stay she interacted with the students who told her about their day-to-day lives at the school. read more Six years later, in 2011, she met the Chinese dancer Yang Ji (Yutong) in Vienna. Yang Ji’s childhood dream was to take the stage as a dancer and actress. At the age of eight she entered a dance boarding school in Shanyeng, a city in northern China, where she was trained as a dancer and Peking Opera performer. During the six years she spent at the school, Yang Ji learned how to train her body like a machine, how to hide her pain, and how to cope with homesickness.

Cornelia Rainer combines the stories of the students in Taipei with Yang Ji’s personal story. Much of what she has experienced and writes about fits into the image of China created by the West: China, the economic wonderland with its turbo-capitalism and booming markets, the country which is likely to create the future elites and in which ambition, drive, iron will, and success dominate life at all costs. Recently, the book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Chinese American author Amy Chua was discussed in the media and sparked a debate about the amount of discipline and strictness used in the upbringing of children. As foreign as they seem, the stories of Yang Ji and the students from Taipei certainly overlap with our own reality. On stage, the performer Yang Ji encounters nine Viennese children and teenagers between the ages of seven and fourteen. The children pose many of the questions that followed Yang Ji throughout her youth: What do I want to become? How do I deal with feelings of jealousy and competitiveness? Am I ambitious? Does my body fit the ideal of beauty? What are my limits? How do I react to failure and success? How do I find my path in life? What are my dreams?

In addition to Jang Yi’s personal story, the play also focuses on the children’s stories about their dreams and wishes: in contrast to reality, everything is possible in dreams. The whole world is suddenly filled with magic and every wish can come true. In our dreams, we can accomplish anything, be anything, and become anything: famous, successful, beautiful, brilliant, equipped with special powers and talents. But what happens if your dreams come true and reality suddenly does not appear as glamorous and beautiful as it was in your fantasies?

I WANNA BE (MADE) is a play about courage, self-confidence, anxiety, discipline, and competition, about feeling the obligation to conform to a certain ideal of beauty, but it is also about the difficulty of being far away from family and the uncertainty of one’s future. The stage becomes a place of interaction and exchange: it offers the opportunity to understand another’s unfamiliar life experience and discover unexpected similarities.

The children who participate in the project were selected through workshops, that took place over several days. They come from five districts of Vienna and have different social and cultural backgrounds. Diversity was the key criterion in the selection. For most of the children it is their first time that taking to the stage and rehearsing scripts and movement sequences. For all their differences, the children have one thing in common: the desire to act, and for theater to tell their story.

Dates and cast

World premiere on 10th of February 2012
Length: 85 minutes
recommended for ages 7 years and above

Subsidized by MA7 and the Federal Ministry for Education, Arts and Culture
With the friendly Support of CultureContact Austria
Partner of co-production: Theatre Dschungel Vienna.

With Yang Ji (Yutong), Arjun Kumar, Vanshika Kumar, Michaela Lindorfer, Leon Schönauer, Valerie Schwanda, Tamara Stojkovic, Krisztina Vargha, Yani Zhan, Hanna Zwerina | Stage Direction, Text and Concept Cornelia Rainer | Stage and Costume design Aurel Lenfert | Dramatic Adviser Sibylle Dudek | Sound design Stefan Frankenberger | Video Stefan Wurmitzer, Cornelia Rainer | Assistant Director Lilli Hering | Costume and Stage Design Assistant Sonja Kreibich, Suzana Knezevic, Sarah Zaja | Light design Stefan Enderle (Dschungel Wien) | Production Manager Andrea Klem

Thanks to parents, grandparents and teachers, especially to Maria Lodjn and Nicole Strnad. Also to: Dagmar Bald, Johann Bugnar, Burgtheater Costumfund/Manuela Lehner, Chinesisch School Vienna, Concilium Musikum/Portier, Gunda Dittrich, Fa Frischeis Holzhandel Stockerau, Andrea Flachs, Daniel Grailach, Hauptbücherei Wien, Thomas Havlic, Familie Hering, Konservatorium Wien, Privat Universityt/Danse Department, Corina Lange, Angelika Leb, Jürgen Leutgeb, Susanne Lietzow, Gabriele Ludescher, Michael Maas Schneiderei, Madame Tussauds Vienna, Erni Mai, Maria Moritz, Marlene Polt & Rocky the horse, Mühlbauer Hut & Mode, Gil Pender, Sasha Pirker, Alexandra Reisinger/3raum-Anatomietheater, Konstanze Schäfer, Simon Schennach & MEDIENGESELLSCHAFT, Schneiderei Michael, Anna Schoeppe, Christian & Andrea Stagl/Reitstall Stagl, Dario Stefanek/Lampenschirm, Thorsten Stelter, Niki Tunkowitsch, Ali Zabransky/"imhinterhaus", Family Zwerina. Special thanks to Ondrej Janoska for the recording of die Paganini Capriccio Nr. 5!
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