Behind the scenes with Lily Yang

We interviewed the cast and crew of Another Life to offer a sneak peek into the characters, the writing process and more.

Lily Yang plays Celia Xie, an avid traveller forced to change her direction due to an unexpected situation.

Why did you decide to audition for this role?

I have always had a deep-seated passion for theatre. This audition not only presented an exciting opportunity to explore and express my creative side, but also aligned perfectly with my desire to immerse myself in the world of theatre. Furthermore, it is also very interesting and challenging to play a character that is completely different, and it is very rewarding to be able to present ’someone else’s’ life through acting.

Tell us a bit more about your character?

Celia is a vibrant and adventurous 35-year-old woman whose spirit is fuelled by a profound passion for travel and freedom. What sets her apart is that she defies the conventional expectations of a ’typical Chinese girl.’ She loves daydreaming, considering it her gateway to finding utopia, and she’s the type of person who actively pursues and manifests those dreams in real life.

Her love for exploration goes hand in hand with her resistance to the idea of settling in one place forever. Celia embraces a dynamic lifestyle that values continuous exploration and discovery. She sees each journey as an opportunity for personal growth and a chance to broaden her horizons.

What was your first impression of the script?

My initial encounter with the script left me with a feeling of ’this is it’. I felt immediate connection with the characters, a relatability that resonated deeply within me. What struck me most was the profound relevance of each character to my own life.

Moreover, the script provided a comforting realisation that my experiences and emotions as a Chinese individual navigating life in a new country were not isolated. In exploring the characters and their journeys, it’s a reassuring reminder that, despite the challenges, I am not alone in my journey. It is a connection that goes beyond the script itself.

How did you feel about performing in a play that is based on real-life testimonies?

As mentioned above, it provides a sense of reassurance and comfort to know that my struggles as a Chinese individual in the UK are not isolated. The narratives grounded in real-life testimonies make the characters more than just roles; they become conduits for shared stories, echoing the voices of those who have faced similar challenges.

However, this recognition also comes with a sense of responsibility. It’s crucial to approach the performance with a delicate understanding of the real experiences behind the script.

The authenticity of the stories demands a careful and accurate portrayal. Therefore, as an actor, it is imperative to handle these narratives with utmost care.

Who would you like to see in the audience and what would you like them to take away from the experience (without revealing any spoilers!)?

I hope to see a diverse audience, including those who’ve experienced coming to the UK for the first time. It would be fantastic if the shared experiences on stage resonated with people from similar backgrounds, saying ’yep, that’s how I felt.’

Additionally, I welcome locals to gain a better understanding of the challenges faced by international individuals or immigrants. My goal is for everyone to leave with an appreciation of diverse paths and recognizing universal connections.

Is there a particular scene in the play that really excited you? If yes, why?

I’m particularly excited about the dancing sequences in Celia’s parts. These scenes use music, movement, and expressions to convey emotions, making them powerful and impactful. The interpretive nature of the dances allows the audience to imagine the stories themselves, adding a dynamic and engaging layer to the play.

Tell us a little-known fact about yourself?

Despite my love for big and modern cities, I prefer rural life.

What should people who enjoyed this play and are interested in Chinese culture see next? Any plays or films you would recommend?

For those who enjoyed this play and have an interest in Chinese culture, I highly recommend the sitcom ’Fresh Off the Boat’. The show revolves around a Chinese family in America, offering a delightful mix of humour and warmth. It accurately portrays the dynamics of a Chinese family, and each character in the family has a distinct personality, adding depth and interest to the series.

If you’re curious about how a Chinese family navigates life in American society, ’Fresh Off the Boat’ is an excellent starting point that combines entertainment with cultural insights.