Sat, Nov 16, 2019 - Page 4 News List

Taiwanese LGBT plays in New York

THE AFTERMATH:Three Taiwanese playwrights took a look at life after same-sex marriage in productions that featured operas, science fiction and ghost marriages

Staff writer, with CNA, NEW YORK

From left, Taiwanese playwrights Chao Chi-yun, Lin Meng-huan and Liu Chien-kuo, holding a promotional poster for their plays that address life for the LGBT community before and after Taiwan’s legalization of same-sex marriage, during an interview at the Taipei Cultural Center in New York on Thursday.

Photo: CNA

Three dramas addressing life after the legalization of same-sex marriage in Taiwan, written by Taiwanese playwrights, were performed in New York City yesterday, the city’s Taipei Cultural Center said.

New York-based actors performed translated stage readings of the plays by Liu Chien-kuo (劉建幗), Chao Chi-yun (趙啟運) and Lin Meng-huan (林孟寰) at the Segal Theater.

The performances were directed by Michael Leibenluft of Gung Ho Projects and were followed by a discussion panel, the center said.

The plays, which incorporate elements of traditional Taiwanese culture, address how the playwrights grappled with what came after same-sex marriage to give audiences a better understanding of Taiwan’s struggle for marriage equality, the center said.

Liu’s play, titled Why Don’t We Get Married? follows two actresses in a Taiwanese opera troupe who decide to tie the knot and the challenges they face in doing so.

Liu, born to a traditional opera family, said that the question posed in the title of her play reflects the hesitance that same-sex couples feel before deciding to get married, as it makes their sexuality public.

Although she and the other playwrights only had a month to write the scripts, she wanted to ensure it respectfully handled LGBT issues, Liu added.

For Chao, his inspiration came from those who did not live to see the historic ruling, an idea he combined with a Taiwanese custom of ghost marriage, in which a person marries someone posthumously, as well as food culture in southern Taiwan.

Chao’s Love in Time explores what happens when progress comes too late as two sisters plan to stage a wedding for their late father and his boyfriend, who is still alive.

The Red Balloon, by Lin, is a futuristic take on sexuality and medical technology, in which a gay man and his partner use genetic manipulation to ensure that their son is also homosexual.

However, the character later insists on undergoing “orientation reversal surgery” to become “normal,” raising the question of what that means in a world where medical procedures can change someone’s sexual orientation.

Lin said that in his experience, the LGBT community in Taiwan is sometimes closed-off and unwilling to face internal issues, which led him to focus on a darker theme involving self-reflection.

The playwrights, alongside artists and academics from the US, also participated in a panel discussion on Wednesday, at which they exchanged their experiences of LGBT theater and the fight for marriage equality.

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