Asian Australian Actors and Actresses Asian Australian Artists Asian Australian Theatre

Charles Wu talks about theatre, Asian male stereotypes and ‘Scenes from the Climate Era’

An immersive and thought-provoking production, Scenes from the Climate Era is set against the backdrop of a changing climate that captures the exhilaration, frustration, and fascination of living in interesting times. A group of friends reminisce about the last time they took a flight, before all that came to an end. Landholders in Borneo confront western environmentalists over who owns the forest. A frog, the last of its species, starts calling for a mate, but there’s no-one to hear.

An eerie look into our actual future if climate change isn’t taken seriously by the world’s leaders and major corporations. For those who have already checked it out or are planning to check out this play, it will definitely be an eye opener and audiences will walk out with meaningful takeaways as well as having been entertained.

Image via Belvoir St Theatre

Currently still playing at the Belvoir St Theatre, Scenes from the Climate Era is a collective of more than 50 scenes written by the acclaimed climate playwright David Finnigan. One of the major stars of this play is Charles Wu. Like all the other cast of this play, Wu plays multiple roles in more than 50 scenes, so its clear that this is no easy feat to perform.

Wu is an accomplished actor, and is known for his role in the Sydney Theatre Company’s (STC) production of The Lifespan of a Fact, Australian television series Doctor Doctor, and will be playing Zhen Hua in upcoming Belvoir St Theatre production of Miss Peony, written by Michelle Law and directed by Courtney Stewart.

In a recent interview with Being Asian Australian, Wu talks about what it’s like to play multiple characters in a production with over 50 scenes. According to Wu, the dialogue in each scene isn’t that long and it is more about getting into the characters and into the vibe of the play, rather than having to memorise and constantly remember what he has to say and do.

“There are many scenes, but at most there is half to a page of dialogue for each of the characters I play, and sometimes there is only a paragraph. Also each scene is quite defined in its purpose, so when you are in that scene it is obvious what actions need to be performed. you can really get into the character very quickly. We are also quite didactic, as we do announce the year and the situation of the scene we are playing. The play is more about the characters and the environment of each scene rather than emotions, and we are really in a storytelling role”, Wu said.

Image via Belvoir St Theatre

An important factor in any production, especially one like this where there are many scenes, is the transition process, and how smooth and consistent that process is of transitioning from scene to scene. For Wu, transitions are important, but he said how smooth the process is, is all dependent on the cast members and how the scene ends. For Scenes from the Climate Era, each scene ends with a question or dialogue which will allow audiences to reflect upon.

“It is definitely a group effort, and as cast members in each scene we have to work with each other to ensure the scene ends well and there is good transition. In this play, nothing is really resolved neatly, so we usually end with a question to ponder on, and think of an answer for that moment. That moment allows us to smoothly transition to the next scene. But if I really think about it, there isn’t much to transitioning to the next scene, sometimes it is just moving a few chairs and that only takes seconds. As long as the purpose of the play matches the execution, there really should’t be issues in transitioning scenes”.

Image via IMDB

Finally, a more social question was posed to Wu about whether there are changes in the representation of Asian men in Australian screen, television and on stage. Wu sees a lot of changes now and discusses how he has been auditioning and reading for more diverse roles, and that is a sign that there will be more positive changes. One of his goals is to be part of the change to ensure Asian males are no longer just a negative stereotype.

“Of course, I think things are changing. If I think about it, even just five years ago, I don’t think I would have had the opportunities to read for things that I am able to read for today. And I have and will be playing many different roles, showing that Asian male actors are diverse and we are not just that negative stereotype we have been made to look like over many decades. I have and will play regular characters, heroic and evil characters and most importantly romantic interests. I hope there will be more industry change in how Asian men are portrayed. It can’t just be say on stage, but has to be across all mediums – when that happens, then we will not need to have these type of conversations anymore”, Wu expressed.

Scenes from the Climate Era is still playing at Belvoir St Theatre and will be playing till June 25, 2023. You can go to the Belvoir St Theatre website for more details and tickets: .

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: