A few words
I read this book on the plane from Beijing to Frankfurt. I was hesitant to share the book with the audience because I didn't know if it was available in English or in other languages. So I wrote to Judith Gerstenberg, the Head Dramaturge for theatre, dance and performance at the festival, and asked her if I could share a book with the audience in Chinese only. Her reply to me was: »Please feel completely free in your choice. We are an international festival, so I would like to put a book in the library with Chinese letters.« I am very happy to have Judith's approval.
The reason I introduced the book to the audience is that it is written by a woman who is 80 years old, an ordinary Chinese woman. Her name is Yang Benfen and she was born in 1940 in Xiangyin, Hunan Province, China. When she was young, she did not have the opportunity to continue her education because she had to help her mother take care of her siblings, and she spent her life taking care of her family and working, not to mention having no time to write. Starting at the age of 60, Yang Benfen wrote in the kitchen of her home and published her first book in 2020 at the age of 80. I can imagine that she spent most of her life in the kitchen. She started writing from the women in her own family and swam in the river of women. The book is called Autumn Garden which is the name of her mother. Through the personal life of her mother, we see the history of the country.
It is a small book, but it does bring me a lot of energy. It reinforces for me that there is no reason to give up our memories, and I believe that every person's experience is a special flashing historical testimony, Yang's book also corresponds to my philosophy of dance: »That wherever life goes, so shall our dancing«, as Benfen Yang writes: »An ordinary life, when you present it as it is, will also glow with the power to inspire others.« I believe that a person's life will always find its point in time to bloom, and everyone can become a writer or a performer...
Wen Hui, Choreographer, 2022