In 2015, I met Antonia Yip Siew Pin during Orientation Week. We were both international students with a great interest in performing arts, and it was only natural that we became friends.
Three years later, I met Antonia again, but this time I am the audience, while she’s the performer. At this year’s Melbourne Fringe Festival, Antonia, alongside her colleague Nores Cerfeda, will perform their original two-person play The Good Person Recipe at Club Voltaire. The show is also scripted by Antonia herself.
I went to watch the performance last Sunday, and the show was just so, so, so good that I would highly recommend you include it in your weekend plan. The show is filled with simple but philosophical details. As indicated through its name, the show revolves around a mysterious and peculiar recipe that could ‘cook out’ the colour of humanity merely with food receipts. While the show is set in a café, the heart of the story is filled with eastern wisdom, and oh gosh, I just damn love all the food humour it’s embedded with.
Beyond the show, what impressed me most is undoubtedly Antonia herself. A Malaysian international student, how did she get involved with the Melbourne performing arts community? How has her university experience led her to Melbourne Fringe, a paradise for local young artists? Does she have any tips for those who’re also interested in theatre performance? With these questions in mind, I caught up with her at Des Connor Room in Union House when she had just finished a rehearsal.
Wing: Antonia, I’ve known a lot about you, but can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers?
Antonia: My name is Antonia Yip Siew Pin. I’m an international student from Malaysia. I’m here to pursue my tertiary studies. I major in creative writing and media and comms. I’m also graduating this semester!
Wing: Woohoo! How did you get involved with performing arts?
Antonia: I have been performing since I was 13 back in Malaysia. Back in high school, I had been performing annually.
As performing arts has always been my passion, after I came into Melbourne, the first thing I did was going to Union House’s Information Desk and asked how do I be part of [the unimelb] performing community. They asked me to subscribe to a monthly newsletter with information on various theatre performances, and I just rocked up to auditions.
This experience of door knocking is actually scary, as I do have lots of concerns and worry before joining the community. Many people in the community already know each other very well. They probably are friends from high school to uni, and I was definitely a fresh face in uni and this community. Also as I am a woman of colour from overseas, I feel conscious of that as well, especially when all my friends in theatres are mostly locals. However, I would say it is still worth just turning up and doing it, chance will come to you in a way.
Wing: That’s impressive! Now tell us something about your show – how did you come up with the idea?
Antonia: My show, The Good Person Recipe, is my first Fringe show. It’s basically about a waitress struggling to preserve her goodness. She has a particular habit of collecting food receipts, and she uses food receipts as the means to measure the goodness in people. For more details, you can hop on our Facebook or Instagram page, and we also have our trailer there.
The entire show is basically playing with the tension between good and bad – the idea of what it means to be a good or bad person, and what it means as there is no such good and bad. There is only grey area everywhere, and the show will discuss how people should do with that.
The script I wrote for the show was originally a short fiction I wrote in class last year. I adapted it into a performative piece, and my friend Nores helped me edit it and fill in some blanks for my script.
Wing: How do you find it so far? What are the benefits?
Antonia: I had only done student theatres till last year when I got an opportunity to perform in La Mama Theatre, and this year doing Fringe has been particularly stressful for me, I have been losing lots of hair this entire process! It requires me to learn a lot of stuff – not just performing but also administration stuff, such as booking venues. Also, my partner who I would perform within this piece, he has way more experience ahead from me, and I’m always conscious of that. I’m trying to match my power level up to his, and this entire performance has let me try to match up or even in my own way to flourish and shine as bright as him on stage as well.
This is a very important show for me, not just because it’s my first time at Fringe but also like I don’t know where I will perform next year after I graduate. And the show has been particularly important because all my friends know I’ve been doing [performances] for ages. And it just feels so nice to know that I build up a little small circle of people that trust in me and push me to be better. It feels really good to have the whole theatre community supporting you from your back as well. And having people willing to donate money, to lend you a hand whether it is editing your script, giving you a few bonuses, stuff like that.
Wing: Final question! What are your main goals for performing arts?
Antonia: Friendship, hard work, dedication and persistence. These are definitely my four main goals of performing arts.
The Good Person Recipe will be performed on September 28, 29 and 30 at Club Voltaire. For more information, please click here.