Fri, Jan 15, 2010 - Page 14 News List

DRAMA : Sad memories from a chaotic past

By Noah Buchan  /  STAFF REPORTER

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An elderly woman sits at center stage luxuriously attired in a vanilla jacket and crimson dress, checkered stiletto pumps adorning her feet. Her trendy appearance, however, belies bitter memories of a traumatic past — memories that well up as a phantom-like figure clad in black circles her and throws sheets of paper into her lap.

The pages serve as a symbolic reminder of the accusations of infidelity she faced in her younger days, the lingering recollections of which are deftly portrayed in Lee Qingzhao the Private’s (李清照私人劇團) Chen Qingyang (陳清揚). The play begins tonight at Huashan 1914 Creative Park’s (華山1914) Fruit Wine Building (果酒禮堂).

The title of the production takes its name from the female protagonist in The Golden Age (黃金年代), a novella written by Wang Xiaobo (王小波) and adapted for the stage by playwright Liu Liang-yen (劉亮延).

Following a preview of the play on Wednesday, Liu said that 70 percent of Chen Qingyang, a mise en scene monologue, comes from the novella.

“Thirty percent is my own interpretation ... of Chen [in old age] to show Taiwanese the internal [pain] of China’s people. Not just the shallow issues of commercial relations and trade,” Liu said.

Set during the chaotic years of the Cultural Revolution, Wang’s story satirically examines the experiences of Chen Qingyang a 26-year-old married female doctor, who has answered Mao Zedong’s (毛澤東) call for young and educated urbanites to be “sent down” to the villages to work alongside the peasants.

Accused of cheating on her husband (who has been jailed), she seeks the help of 21-year old Wang Er (王二), one of her wards and the narrator of the novella, to clear her name.

PERFORMANCE NOTES:

WHAT: Chen Qingyang (陳清揚)

WHEN: Today, tomorrow, Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Jan. 22 and Jan. 23 at 7:30pm

WHERE: Huashan 1914 Creative Park (華山1914), Fruit Wine Building (華山創意園區果酒禮堂), 1, Bade Rd Sec 1, Taipei City (台北市八德路一段1號)

ADMISSION: Weekend performances are NT$600, Tuesday’s performance is NT$300, and Wednesday and Thursday performances are NT$400, available through NTCH ticketing


This sets off a series of events that eventually finds Chen sleeping with Wang Er and turning the accusation into a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy.

Although Wang Er narrates the novella, Liu’s play has Chen recall the story.

“I wanted to look at the perspective of the accused,” Liu said.

It works to great effect. Whereas the reader of Wang’s story is offered a glimpse into the motivations of Wang Er, Liu’s play shows, through Chen’s recollections, the tremendous struggles individuals faced during the Cultural Revolution and the emotional scars they continue to bear.

In yet another example of how the Cultural Revolution remains a taboo subject in China, Chen Qingyang was banned from being performed in Beijing last year.

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