Space Theatre, Thu 5 Oct.
Chinese-Australian rapper Joelistics and Filipino-Australian musician James Mangohig’s collective Australian heritage stretches back to 1916 when Joelistics’ Chinese grandmother was born in Sydney. They are eminently qualified to be ambassadors for a festival that celebrates the cultural legacies of Oz (Australia) and Asia. They breathe modern life into the ancient art of storytelling as they take us back through their family’s past with sincerity, humour, and respect.
Their stories would stand alone as examples of the fascinating twists and turns that lives can take in any event, but presented as part of the OzAsia Festival 2017 they are a perfect addition to the program. Embellished with thoughtful soundscapes (played live), photos, and the occasional video In Between Two is an immensely entertaining tale of two immigrant families and their ongoing connections with life back in Asia. Interspersed with original hip hop tunes that are lyrically rich and musically engaging, I imagine they may have also inadvertently converted some unbelievers to the world of hip hop.
Their stories don’t pull any punches. As Australian as they are (they were both born here) and as good as Australia has been to them, they have also experienced plenty of small-minded racism and bullying, and they were very honest about the times they lost their way. Drugs and crime could easily have claimed them but their interest and talent in music eventually brought them success in a medium where they finally felt at home.
Their attachment and respect for their cultural legacies is quite endearing. For Joelistics and Mangohig incorporating sampled music of past musicians into contemporary work is akin to the respect and acknowledgement of their ancestors – a powerful force in Asian cultures. “We are the unfinished sentences of our ancestors.” And they demonstrate this is an unabashed modern context.
It’s powerful and moving. Yes they are In Between Two worlds, but they are also intrinsically part of those two worlds, and their histories make a mockery of those who have tried to cast them as ‘other’, or somehow foreign.
A wonderful and uplifting show that tells a part of the Australian story that is inexorably bound up with Asia.
In Between Two continues at Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, from 6.30pm until Fri 6 Oct.
Book at BASS on 131 246 and bass.net.au. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.
Cover image courtesy of William Yang
Centre image courtesy of Cesar Rodrigues