Hidden Histories #4 – True Heart Theatre 真心劇團 – giving voice to London’s Chinese community

January 27, 2022|Events, Hidden Histories|

©True Heart Theatre

Generating a deep sense of community inspired through sharing personal stories.

SOAS Decolonising Working Group (DWG)

Hidden Histories

A seminar series curated by the Library Decolonisation Operational Group, led by Farzana Qureshi, Dr. Ludi Price, Amma Poku and Angelica Baschiera

Hidden Histories seeks to highlight stories from African, Caribbean and Asian communities in the UK and beyond, bringing to light a shared vision of decolonising knowledge production, and documenting the unique voices and experiences of diasporas in Britain and across the world.

Tuesday 22nd February 2022 at 5:30pm-7pm (GMT)

Venue: Online (Zoom – Registration)

Title: True Heart Theatre 真心劇團 – giving voice to London’s Chinese community

February 2022 marks a new beginning for those who celebrate the Chinese New Year – a significant festival in the lunar calendar for many people in the UK and across the world. Over two weeks from the new to the full moon, this period of time is enjoyed with the sharing of food and anecdotes exchanged between the old and young. A deep sense of belonging and cultural identity is especially fostered through stories told by older members to the younger ones in the family and in the community. This sharing of stories being kept alive from one generation to another.

In 2006, a group of young Chinese overseas students, who were living in London, bonded through a common interest. Recognising that they are far away from their original homeland, they came together to tell stories of their experience of living in the UK; and also stories about missing their home in Asia. They were taught a form of improvisational theatre called Playback Theatre and used this vehicle to share their stories… realising the power of Playback Theatre to generate shared community consciousness and care. True Heart Theatre has since then been in active service to many Chinese community groups within the UK, especially London, since its formation.

True Heart Theatre 真心劇團 is honoured to be invited to attend this Hidden Histories event. Ms Veronica Needa – one of the co-founders of True Heart Theatre – will share something of their early history and activities which was in the heart of the Chinese community in Camden. She was recently recognised with a Lifetime Achievement award for her contribution to the creative arts in Chinese communities and beyond – this conferred to her by the Chinese Information and Advice Centre at the House of Lords on 6th December 2021.

True Heart Theatre’s current Director, Agnes Law, will host a playback theatre performance presented to you by a team of diverse and experienced playbackers from Asia, Europe and the USA. The performers are Agnes Law, Valentina Wong, Andrea Lowry, Andy Yau, Anisha Pucadyil, Candy Ma, Ferran Luengo and Karen Kiefer.

About the panellists:

True Heart creates theatre to deepen the relationship between the individual & the community – trusting the power of the performing arts to move, inspire, and generate personal & social transformation. Since 2006 we have been creating a platform for voices to be seen & heard through our work in mainstream scripted productions and in applied theatre contexts. We have been enabling people – young and old – to reflect on their lives, learn from each other, and be joyfully entertained with stories brought alive through theatre.


Veronica Needa
A professional theatre worker, she encountered Playback Theatre in 1991 and has followed its calling since then. She has an MA in Autobiographical Theatre (Kent), a Diploma in Group Facilitation, Conflict Resolution & Counselling Skills (The Forgiveness Project/NAOS) and graduated from the School of Playback Theatre (NY, USA) in 1995. A founder of London Playback Theatre, and now-retired director of the School of Playback Theatre UK, she co- founded True Heart Theatre with Wing Hong Li in 2006. She has also created a bilingual (Cantonese/English) solo show – FACE – which has toured extensively; and is published in English & Chinese by IATC (Hong Kong), and by the HK University Press in English. Addressing her own multicultural identity, the show (sometimes followed with Playback Theatre to enable sharing of stories) is used as a provocation for exploring diversity issues within our community.

Honorary Director

Agnes Law
One of the earliest members of True Heart Theatre, she is an experienced playback theatre conductor having many years of experience working with diverse communities; and utilises her skills as a social worker and dance movement psychotherapist. Agnes speaks three languages, Cantonese, Mandarin and English and she often encourages Chinese speaking audiences to tell their stories in their native language during a playback theatre performance.

Honorary Assistant Director

Valentina Wong
A learning and development professional and a specialist in the public culture and libraries sectors, she supports people in local government with their own development at work. She was born and bred in Hong Kong and has been a Londoner since 2005. She is married to a South Korean and has two children,

Performing ensemble

Andrea Lowry
Originally from the USA, she is a Music & Sound Therapist and Psychodramatist, and has worked clinically and in private practice since 1984. She encountered True Heart while living in London and has been their musician for the last 2 years. She currently lives in Belgium.

Andy Yau 
Originally from Hong Kong, his first encounter with Playback Theatre was in an open workshop with True Heart Theatre in London while he was on his working holiday visa back in 2009. Since then he has joined the company and is actively involved in rehearsals and performances. Based in Birmingham, he also performs with other Playback Theatre companies across the UK. He is the administrator of the School of Playback Theatre UK; and is also a professional actor on stage, film and TV.

Anisha Pucadyil
She has recently moved to London from Bangalore, India, and has been doing playback online for the past year and a half with Citylamps and ACT playback theatre companies. She is a listening guide and volunteers for hosting online Open Space events since the pandemic began; and is delighted to find synergy with True Heart Theatre to take playback into diverse communities. 

Candy Ma
Originally from China, she trained at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and has since gone on to establish herself as versatile professional theatre performer, and over the years has accumulated extensive experience. She started her playback theatre journey with True Heart in 2016 and is grateful for the joy and heartfelt experiences which this has given her. 

Ferran Luengo
From Spain, and now living in London, he is an improviser and facilitator who loves using theatre as a means for social change among communities, with Playback Theatre as his favourite and main tool for this purpose.

Karen Kiefer
Originally from the USA, she is a certified Advanced Playback Theatre Practitioner; a community theatre co-founder, director, improvisor; a member of True Heart Theatre, Playback Edinburgh, and Mosaic Playback; and is a PhD candidate at the Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts exploring theatrical and theological contexts of ‘empty space’ with emphasis on improvisation.

To register, click this link.

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