Pai Hsien-yung’s famous novel Crystal Boys to be adapted for the stage 白先勇文學經典《孽子》搬上舞台

Mon, Jun 10, 2013 - Page 11

Having been adapted into a TV mini-series and a movie, writer Pai Hsien-yung’s popular novel Crystal Boys (niezi, or “sons of sin” in Chinese) will be adapted for the stage next year for the first time. The play is being created especially for National Theater Concert Hall’s annual Taiwan International Festival of the Arts next year. Pai says that being able to see a theatrical version of his play made three decades after the novel was originally published is, “Quite unexpected. I hope that ticket sales will be as good as my production of The Peony Pavilion for young people, becoming a veritable box office sensation.”

Crystal Boys was turned into a movie in 1986 and a TV miniseries in 2003. This is the first time, however, that the novel has ever been adapted into a theatrical play. Pai has invited Tsao Jui-yuan, who won the Television Golden Bell Awards’ Best Mini-series TV/Movies Director Award for Crystal Boys in 2003, to direct the play. Tsao believes that it is not merely a novel about homosexuals, “Pai Hsien-yung uses several dozen characters to reconstruct Taiwan as it existed during that time. The fantasy, romance, as well as the fighting and redemption found in the relationship between father and son are all quite stirring.”

Pai says that a stage play differs from a novel, film or television series in that it requires more dramatic tension. “No matter how it is adapted, the most important thing is that it moves people.” Pai says that the protagonist would like to return to simply being a “son” instead of a “son of sin,” and that the main thing he needs is to be accepted by his father, “who represents society at large.” In the book, the boy’s psyche is quite fragile, so Pai would like to use performance art forms such as dance and music to complement the realism of the play.

Veteran scriptwriter Shih Ju-fang will be in charge of adapting the script. Topics concerning homosexuality often appear in today’s movies and on television, so Shih thinks the subject is not as taboo as when the book was first published. The ways in which Crystal Boys utilizes homosexual romance to challenge Confucian values and question father-and-son relations still make it an entirely unique work today. “The greatest challenge a scriptwriter faces when adapting a novel for the stage is having it accepted by the audience.” Shih says that she will use the father-son relationship as the play’s main theme and homosexual romance as a secondary theme. In creating the theatrical version of the novel, dream-like romance will pervade the entire production of Crystal Boys as it follows these two main themes, she says.

(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)