Rainbow Chan makes her haunting Arts House debut: ‘These poignant laments are at risk of fading away’

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Rainbow Chan makes her haunting Arts House debut: ‘These poignant laments are at risk of fading away’

Rainbow Chan
Words by Staff Writer

Rainbow Chan 陳雋然 is an award-winning vocalist, producer and multi-disciplinary artist.

This May, she will make her Arts House debut with The Bridal Lament 哭嫁歌.

A sumptuous audio-visual experience and poly-stylistic song cycle, The Bridal Lament moves through electroacoustic chorales, propulsive dances and hauntingly beautiful laments across 13 original songs.

Rainbow Chan’s The Bridal Lament

  • 8 – 19 May 2024
  • 7.30pm Wed – Sat
  • 5pm Sun 19 May
  • Duration 70 minutes
  • Arts House – North Melbourne Town Hall

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The Bridal Lament reimagines an obsolete Weitou ritual of grief, where a bride wept and sung in front of family and friends for five days, expressing bitterness towards their arranged marriage and the prevailing patriarchal rule.

Interwoven with autobiographical narratives and sculptural movement, Chan crafts a captivating performance that transcends time and traditions, inviting audiences into a tour de force exploration of her diverse musical palate.

As a six year old, Chan moved from Hong Kong to Australia. In 2018, her mother started teaching her Weitouhua (which means ‘walled village language’), a disappearing dialect that was spoken by the first settlers of Hong Kong.

For over five years, Chan has been relearning traditional Weitou folksongs from female elders to craft this work.

“The learnings from my mother sparked my life-long research into Weitou women’s cultural knowledge,” Chan says. “I realised that as the Weitou elders reach old age, these poignant laments are at risk of fading away. The Bridal Lament honours these women’s voices and ensures that their stories continue to resonate for future generations,” Chan explains.

Produced by Contemporary Asian Australian Performance, with direction by Tessa Leong and visuals by Rel Pham, The Bridal Lament is created by a creative team that resonates with the Hong Kong diaspora and pop music audiences alike.

Arts House Acting Artistic Director, Olivia Anderson, looks forward to sharing The Bridal Lament with audiences, “It is a lush and lavish work that pays homage to the Weitou ritual through a suite of new songs, projection, movement and colour.”

Accompanying The Bridal Lament is a free installation that features Chan’s silk paintings and sound composition called, The novice, fry and fledging 我全未曉, which is free to view in Arts House foyer from 6 – 26 May 2024.

Bookings via artshouse.com.au.