Joanne Ryan on the Asian Premiere of Eggsistentialism

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Why did you choose to perform your show at the Diversecity festival?

It was all very fortuitous really. I’d been invited to perform at Melbourne and Sydney Fringe Festivals and while I was planning the best way to make the journey from Ireland to Australia it occurred to me that I could break it up with a stop somewhere in South East Asia.

As I was looking at dates I realised that DiverseCity would be happening at the same time I was passing through so I called the festival director Sunita to discuss programming the show with her.

Thanks to her incredible enthusiasm – and the very generous support of Culture Ireland and Irish Embassy in Malaysia – we were able to make it work and I couldn’t be happier. It’s a gorgeous programme and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.

This is your first time performing a show in Malaysia. Have you been to Malaysia and Kuala Lumpur before? If yes, what were your impressions of it?

Yes, I’ve been here many times! I actually lived in Bangkok for most of my 20s and made lots of trips to Malaysia over the years. I have great memories of trekking in Taman Negara and having scones, strawberries and cream after long walks in the Cameron Highlands but the place I went to most was always Penang. It’s still one of my favourite places in the world and I’ll try and get there for a few days while I’m in Malaysia with the show because it’s been such a long time now since I was there. I’m already dreaming about all the amazing food I’m going to eat!

What do you hope for your show to convey to the audience in Malaysia?

A deeper understanding of the issues facing a generation, an insight into Ireland’s sexual and reproductive history but most of all the feeling that they’ve been on a hilarious, thought-provoking and intensely human journey.

Who will be able to “enjoy” the show? Why?

The show has a very broad appeal – much broader than I thought it would when I was making it I have to say – and everywhere we’ve been, it has attracted very mixed audiences. I think different people respond to different elements.

Men and women in their 20s, and particularly in their 30s, can really relate to the dilemma of being at that stage of your life. Older generations respond to my mother who is the voice of reason in the show and also acts as an intergenerational link.

The show also looks at Ireland’s reproductive health history so as we’ve been touring internationally I think lots of people are very interested in that – getting an insight into what’s happening in Ireland and how that’s different or the same as what’s going on in their countries.

Mainly, the show is very irreverent and funny so people who don’t feel any particular connection to the themes but enjoy a good laugh will probably get a kick out of it as well!

Is this the first time you are performing your show in Asia? How do you think an Asian audience will react to your show as compared to a Western one?

Yes, this is the Asian premier of the show which I’m really excited about!

Honestly, I don’t know if an Asian audience would react any differently than a Western one. I’ve performed the show over 50 times now and audience reactions can vary so much, even from one night to the next in the same small town. It’s impossible to predict and I’m always surprised.

It’s a great feeling actually, walking out every night not knowing what’s going to happen.

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