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Mending the broken heart: Using an ethnodrama to give voice to Hong Kong Chinese cancer caregivers


LLED Seminar Series – Margaret Mun Yee Cheung

LLED is pleased to host a special Seminar Series talk with Margaret Mun Yee Cheung, from Queensland University of Technology.

Date: Thursday, January 14, 2016
Time: 12:30-2pm. Attendees are encouraged to bring their lunches early for some one-on-one time with the speaker
Location: Digital Literacy Centre, Ponderosa F room 103

Cancer is the leading cause of death in Hong Kong and a difficult subject of conversation for the Chinese community. Cancer caregiving by family members and friends is difficult due to cultural tradition of non-disclosure, secrecy, piety and self-sacrifice. Believing it would be emotionally upsetting for others, they avoid discussion about caregiving stress. Chinese families are close-knit and do not share information outside of the family, especially bad news. Because of the need to preserve ‘face’, asking for help is perceived as a sign of weakness. Hence, a lack of information, experience, outside help and personal time renders caregiving very challenging. Employing a constructivist approach, this practice-led research explores and describes the Hong Kong Chinese cancer caregiving experience using ethnography and applied theatre for data collection, and ethnodrama performance for data dissemination. This research aims to enable participants to translate their own experiences through their own storytelling and participation in the drama world. Through ethnodrama performance, the research hopes to support caregivers by offering validation, an avenue for expression, and self-discovery. In addition to information dissemination, the ethnodrama may serve as a platform for dialogue and bring awareness to a topic that is difficult to discuss, for communities in Hong Kong and elsewhere, Chinese or otherwise. This presentation focuses on the research process from data collection to ethnodrama performance, the triumphs and tribulations of this type of research-based art, and the research participants’ and audience’s responses to this form of drama presentation.

Margaret is a freelance performer and drama teacher, and a member of the Canadian Actors’ Equity Association for theatre performers and Union of British Columbia Performers/Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists. With over 20 years of performing experience, Margaret has played many roles both in front of and behind stage including actor, singer, director, teacher, producer, translator and casting director. Margaret has lectured at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, Hong Kong Art School, the International Academy of Film & Television Hong Kong, the Hong Kong City University SCOPE Project Yi Jin, Hong Kong Institute for Education and Hong Kong Management Association; and various secondary schools in Hong Kong. She completed a Master of Drama Education degree at Griffith University and is currently a Doctor of Creative Industries candidate at Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia. Her doctoral thesis is an arts-based research entitled Mending the broken heart: Using an ethnodrama to give voice to Hong Kong Chinese cancer caregivers.



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