Iconic Chinese play hits America

Updated: 2015-03-24 12:42

By Niu Yue in New York(China Daily USA)

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Iconic Chinese play hits America

Director Stan Lai gives notes to actor Paul Juhn in a rehearsal of Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Provided to China Daily

Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land, the iconic stage play in contemporary Chinese theater, will be performed at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon, featuring American actors for the first time from April 15 through Oct 31.

Written and directed by Stan Lai, the US-born, Taiwan-based playwright and theater director, currently a visiting professor at Stanford University, Secrete Love in Peach Blossom has been performed hundreds of times around the world since its creation in 1986 by Lai's Taipei-based Performance Workshop. It is now a standard with university theater troupes.

This will be the first time a stage play from the East will be performed at a mainstream Western theater festival.

Started in 1935, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival is a regional repertory theater in Ashland, Oregon. It is considered one of the best regional theaters in the United States. The festival annually produces eleven plays on three stages during a season that lasts from February to October. Four of the plays produced each year are by William Shakespeare.

Lai said it was a special honor to take Secret Love to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Since the festival has the advantage of interracial participation, Lai and his workshop decided to use a local American cast.

Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land is about two plays that are accidentally booked into the same theater for dress rehearsals and the companies cannot find the theater manager. One of the casts is playing the early-modern tragedySecret Love and the other is playing the period comedyThe Peach Blossom Landbased on a classical poem. The problem is that both these plays are to be performed in two days. With only one stage for both rehearsals, conflict and comedy follow.

Lai and his workshop have revised the script for the Oregon stage. They added dialogue between characters to help Western audiences better understand the story. They adjusted the dialogue to make the humor more accessible to Western audiences.

Secret Love in Peach Blossom Landmixes sorrow and delight.

"I've always wanted to put the two together on stage to see what it felt like," Lai said. "I never thought tragedy and comedy were opposites. I think they are different aspects of the experience of life."

Secret Love is a story that happens in a theater. "The location where it happens is precisely where it's being performed. So if we were performing in Beijing, then it's that theater, if we are performing at Ashland, it's that theater," Lai explained.

Hong Xiao contributed to this story.