My Little Tomato first came about with the examination of my being a closet introvert.
Amidst my seemingly extroverted self, I would often retire into the kitchen to cook, to simply find my zen after a day of work and socializing. As most fictional characters in my writing do stem from different sides of who I am, I thought I’d take the idea to the extreme and have my character Keaton Chu desperately needing to fall in love with a tomato.
I’ve often been drawn to romantic comedies… Romance: Perhaps being my wish to bridge Eastern and Western cultures… Comedy: Perhaps being my wish to bring a sense of humour to our differences. So, as I began developing the idea of the play, adding surrealism to the mix for extra fun, I recognized that I was essentially expanding on a relatively universal theme, whereby humans are oftentimes reluctant to be vulnerable in relationships, needing to create barriers or alter-egos to protect themselves from truly being loved by someone else.
Story, content, characters, and settings are not the only components I examine when it comes to writing an original project. Musical theatre, Cirque du Soleil, Baz Luhrmann, and Stephen Chow have always been format and style inspirations, and the mixing of anything East and West additionally fuses into my creative endeavours.
Having lived between Asia and North America all my life, I consistently noted my peers and fellow artists lament about being either too Asian or being too Western, doing everything they could to find their own niche in a fragmented marketplace for making their voices heard. Fluctuating from pretending that others don’t matter and pretending that oneself doesn’t matter, has morphed for myself into ultimately recognizing that ANYONE in the spectrum between new immigrant and North American born… matters. Every story is unique. Every perspective can be shared without shame. And by sharing our unique voices is what will always bring to surface the universality of ALL our identity struggles—a need to belong, survive and love.
Keaton Chu, Joe McKinley, Tomato and Potato, are all characters in the play that are meant to personify extremes of different views about relationships, gay, interspecies or otherwise. And in classic boy-meets-boy-meets-fruit-meets-vegetable-meets-boy fashion… I yearned for them all to learn from one another to find balance in love and life—happy ending or not, I won’t spoil it for the audience—at least whimsy, humour, queer naughtiness, and catharsis will all be a part of a theatrical experience hopefully worth your time. I encourage you, please enjoy.
Thank you for your support of artists and theatre!
My Little Tomato
A Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre (vAct) and Zee Zee Theatre co-production in association with rice & beans theatre (Vancouver)
Co-directed by Derek Chan and Cameron Mackenzie
Mar 9–19, 2023 | The Cultch 1895 Venables Street, Vancouver BC