BWW Previews: ALIEN CITIZEN: AN EARTH ODYSSEY, ONE NIGHT ONE-WOMAN SHOW LANDS at HCC Ybor City Theatre
Imagine being able to say you are a citizen of the world, that your childhood was spent traversing the continents. Elizabeth Liang says this and so much more during her one-woman show "Alien Citizen: an Earth odyssey" at HCC Ybor Theatre for a one-time only performance on September 27.
Elizabeth has always been a storyteller, amusing her friends with tales of growing up overseas. Someone recommended she do a show about her experiences, and that suggestion planted a seed.
As a multiracial dual-citizen, Elizabeth had never seen her particular type of story told, so a few years later, when her brother told her of an anthology essay contest requesting submissions from Third Culture Kids (children of military parents, global educators, international business people, diplomats and missionaries), she decided to journal her experiences. Elizabeth wrote an essay about creating a solo show about her life.
"I figured that would trick me into creating my solo show," she said.
And it worked.
She worked on her show on and off for a few years and it premiered in Hollywood in 2013.
"It's funny and poignant. It's meant to make you laugh and hopefully make you cry," she said. "It's a bit of a whirlwind because I take you through six countries, all the different languages, cultures, people, my family dynamic, who I am at each stage of my life.
The audience will get an insight into what it's like to grow up in peripatetic and
intercultural family, if they didn't - It's really just a family. What they'll learn is we have a lot in common even if you grew up in one town with a close-knit family, all from the same culture, speaking one language. There's still things in this show that are relatable."
One of the reoccurring themes is being an outsider and being bullied depending on the country and culture, whether for gender or race, by classmates and total strangers.
"At some point, everyone has felt that way, even if it only lasted 30 seconds - especially in childhood."
Elizabeth reflects on both the good and bad, on the resilience needed and humor as a coping mechanism of Third Culture Kids. The childhood tricks applied to deal with constant moving and change and always being "the new kid" don't work well as adults.
As a child, she was used to continually saying goodbye to friends and teachers and having to adapt very quickly to new ones.
"As an adult, the stuffing down of emotion and not expressing ourselves, a lot of acting fine accumulates. We need to be able to express ourselves in a healthy manner and recognize our own feelings, instead of quickly finding ways to distract ourselves. We're so accustomed to moving, that we need to learn to stay in relationships when they get hard. We've never been in a relationship long enough to know how deal with arguments. We just skip out because we never learned how to cope. As an adult, you absolutely can't do that."
Elizabeth credits her director Sofie Calderon with coordinating the project, trimming redundancies and adding scenes. "She did a fantastic job - that's what I want people to know. I get all this credit, but I didn't just do it. I needed an outside eye, someone to watch and say fix this, move this. I really do try to make it as entertaining to myself and the audience as possible."
See Elizabeth in "Alien Citizen: an Earth Odyssey" on September 27th at 7:30 p.m. Hillsborough Community College, Ybor Campus, Ybor Performing Arts Building, 1411 E. 11th Avenue Tampa, FL 33605. Tickets are $15 General Admission, FREE for HCC students, staff and faculty. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 813-253-7682.