by Min Ho
Um, where to begin? I would like to start by thanking NATWA II for the scholarship, as well as everyone at the conference for making my first attendance very fun and welcoming. I met many amazing people and learned so much in such a short weekend.
When Joann, NATWA II Co-coordinator, informed me that my reflection piece was to be on the NATWA II performance based on a sexuality survey, I hesitated slightly inside. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to, or felt embarrassed.
Sexuality is an odd topic. For being talked about so often in popular culture, rarely is it discussed in frank and clear terms. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to, or felt embarrassed. I’ve always considered writing to be a close relative of public speaking and have never enjoyed public speaking. The feeling only got stronger when I became involved with the performance. Rather, it was that I never intended to share my thoughts with the entire membership of the newsletter, much less my own mother.
Somehow I became more involved with the performance than I originally anticipated, but I’ve enjoyed all of it (inexplicably this includes the speaking part too). The experience of preparing for the performance was one of the best parts of the conference for me. I enjoyed hearing about the experiences of other second-generation Taiwanese women with sexuality; it provided a context to my own feelings and to paraphrase a line from the performance, I’m not alone in my experiences.
The NATWA II performance piece was done mid-way through the Saturday night performance set, sandwiched between dance and Taiwanese dialogue sets that I couldn’t understand. Unlike the other performances, NATWA II performers did not really have the time to rehearse prior to the conference. We were rehearsing and changing the format of the performance as the banquet hall was being prepped by hotel staff.
The script and performance were influenced by the Vagina Monologues and sexuality workshops. The script was created from the response to an email survey sent to NATWA II members about sexuality. The survey asked about sexuality growing up (your feelings, how did your mother approach it, or not), current take on sexuality (names/thoughts about the vagina, advice to violated women) and what words would you pass to future daughters and nieces.
Before the performance, there were concerns that the audience wouldn’t understand or would be offended by the content. Since one of the purposes of the performance was to explore and start dialogue with NATWA members regarding sexuality, it was important that the audience connected to the material. Changes such as altering some responses to be in Taiwanese, addition of the introduction, and posing the question asked in Taiwanese were made to address concerns. The adjustments must have been successful as the audience feedback was positive. Plus, based on the type of feedback received, I thought it was a success in prompting conversation and thought regarding sexuality.
I hope those who saw the performance enjoyed it as much as I and fellow NATWA IIers enjoyed performing it. The performance fit in perfectly with the theme of conference, empowerment. After all, sexuality is an integral part of who are you are, and acceptance and understanding of that part is empowering.
Read the script here
The performance was also recorded and is currently being edited. Thank you to all our NATWA II Performers and Moderators as well as Karen Lin for filming it for us!
*photo credits: Shu Jon Mao