Experiencing Interruptions?

Awakening (aka Goodbye, Cinderella.)

When we talk about hospice care, we inevitably think of it in relation to the person who is dying. However, in this sorrowful process, we often overlook the family members of the patient who will suffer longer than the patient themselves.Due to a desire to explore the process of hospice care for those patients’ family, I have created a mixed-reality performance and decided to set the main character as a father who has lost his daughter to cancer, rather than an actual seriously ill patient. He will be constantly torn between fantasy and pain, at times thinking he is his deceased daughter’s favourite character, Cinderella, and at other times remembering the pain of his daughter’s illness. His unusual reactions will also bring about an effect on the doctor, causing empathy for this doctor who is used to seeing life and death.

  • Xiaoyan Dong
    Short Film Willow
  • Xiaoyan Dong
    Short Film Willow
  • Xiaoyan Dong
    2022 Wuzhen Theatre Festival Finalist Anubis
  • Chen Zao
    Key Cast
  • Cuiyi Cen
    Key Cast
  • Xiaoyan Dong
    Lead Artists
    2021 Beijing International Film Festival VR Work Beijing Central Axis
  • Jiageng Guo
    Key Collaborators
    VR Game Kappa
  • Project Type:
    Student, Virtual Reality, Performance, Installation
  • Runtime:
    8 minutes 2 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    May 30, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    3,000 GBP
  • Country of Origin:
    United Kingdom
  • Language:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - University of the Arts London
  • 2023 Sheffield Documentary Film Festival
    United Kingdom
    June 17, 2023
    Children, Parentss, Family of the deceased
    Alternate Reality Talent Artist
Director Biography - Xiaoyan Dong

Xiaoyan is a multimedia artist born in Beijing and based in London. She has a double degree in Fashion Design and Digital Media and an MA in Virtual Reality at the University of the Arts London. She also trained in virtual production techniques and theatre directing skills at the Beijing Film Academy and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. She works in film, experimental performance, installation, and fashion design to explore invisible disabilities, vulnerable cultures, and ethical issues.

Through her experience in theatre production and filmmaking, Xiaoyan is fascinated by the immediacy of theatre and the cinematic perspective of the film, developing a multimedia theatre production system that emphasizes character development and portrayal. Her work encourages people to think about the relationship between people and the digital world or use the virtual to reflect the realities associated with people.

In recent years, as a scriptwriter and director, Xiaoyan has created the environmental drama "Splash It!" which explores the stresses of East Asian societies in the post-pandemic era, the XR short film " Awakening" which explores end-of-life care, the VR short film "Fish Bowl" which explores anxiety sufferers, and the VR short film "A Chinese Embroidered Purse" which explores the society's response to collective catastrophes. As an art director, she completed the short films "Bravery" and "The Witch and the Beggar". In addition, as a stage designer and character designer, she has completed theatre projects such as Ekaterina, Anubis, and Walking the Beijing Central Axis.

These short films have been screened in exhibition spaces in Beijing and London, and have involved Xiaoyan in the VR section of the 2021 Beijing International Film Festival, the 2022 Wuzhen Theatre Festival, and have had her selected as a Talented Artist in Alternative Reality for the 2023 Sheffield Documentary Film Festival.

Meanwhile, she has worked as a costume designer for Chinese rural laborers, and she has a patent pending for trousers she has designed for urine bag users.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

I started to create my own immersive art after some theatre production and filmmaking experiences. This is not only because digital is more environmentally and visually advantageous, but also comes from the fact that I value the fact that it acts like a microscope to magnify things we would normally overlook.

For this project, I used a mixed reality approach to bring to life the pain of losing a relative. It is a process that almost everyone goes through, but often because we focus on the deceased, we neglect the families who deserve more attention. In particular, as an East Asian artist, there is a taboo in my home country to talk about death while all the relatives are alive. So few people know in advance how to face the death of themselves and their significant family members in peace, and when they have to face such a situation, it is often accompanied by great grief and helplessness. And it is worth mentioning that death and facing it is a compulsory lesson in our lives. So I want to break the taboo and prepare my audience to face death and to be empathetic and comforted by the performance I created.

As a mixed-reality performance, this production differs from most immersive productions in that the VR headsets are used by the actor rather than the audience. As a mixed-reality performance, this production differs from most immersive productions in that the VR headset is used by the actors rather than the audience. The VR part of the performance appears as a fantasy image of the hero surreally on the wall of the ward. This gives the audience a better insight into his inner world and enriches the story. At the same time, the position of objects in the ward corresponded to something in his fantasy, but the real behaviour of the main character in the ward and the interactive behaviour in VR produced different results, which created a strong contrast and showed the difficulties that the family of the deceased often had to go through during this painful reawakening process, which was unknown to others. The creative process of using the location of objects to create a connection between the real and the virtual, and the use of different interaction outcomes to create a contrast between the real and the virtual. In my creative philosophy, this is exactly what virtual and realistic mean.

As I said, I have always sought to balance my focus on the virtual and real parts of my work, rather than focusing on making digital work that feels exciting but doesn't have much social relevance. I have always built a connection between the virtual and the real for my audience through real objects in mixed-reality forms, rather than brutally making them put on VR headsets.

Additionally, my experience in costume design has enhanced my handcrafting skills, allowing me to create more expressive and impactful work both in the virtual and real realms.