In the upcoming theatrical adaptation of renowned writer Pai Hsien-yung’s popular novel Crystal Boys (Niezi, or “sons of sin” in Chinese), director Tsao Jui-yuan has invited the well-known Taiwanese gezaixi opera singer Tang Mei-yun to play the important role of Yang Chin-hai (Mob Boss Yang), which in the theatrical version transforms the elderly homosexual man into a gay female mob boss-like character.
Tang says that this is her first time to play the role of a gay woman. “In the play, I’m a totally different sort of woman. I exhibit motherly love and am willing to protect these youths, so it really becomes an alternative sort of family that has more diversity.” Back in the days when her father performed gezaixi on outdoor stages, there were always women playing gender-neutral roles, she says. “They were precisely the sort of role I’m playing now, with my hair slicked back, wearing a suit, but my father always told me to call those women ‘auntie’ so they would give me gifts.” This image and memory gradually resurfaces in her mind during every rehearsal.
Pai also says that he supports gay marriage and does not beat around the bush about it either, “Homosexuality is a part of humanity. People are striving to have this fact recognized, and if it is finally recognized it means that this country admits that heterosexuals and homosexuals are equal.”
How do you give audiences a novel theatrical experience of Crystal Boys? Tsao says that Pai’s original novel is profoundly meaningful and worth reading repeatedly. Pai says that this theatrical version of Crystal Boys is the second time that the novel has been adapted. “I have the easiest job on the entire team,” Pai says. Apart from Tang being a major source of attraction, Golden Bell Awards winner Ting Chiang, veteran actors Samantha Ko and Fan Kuang-yao, along with renowned idol-actors Mo Tzu-yi and Matt Wu will also be joined by a dance troupe consisting of 17 male dancers, who serve as a key part of the performance and are meant to bring out the joys and tribulations of young homosexual boys trapped in the darkness of an unaccepting society.
The stage adaptation of Crystal Boys will be performed at the National Theater from Feb. 7 to Feb. 16 next year.
(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)