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Taiwan play about single mom returns to Beijing

Chen Nan
Updated: Jun 15,2015 2:07 PM     China Daily

The Wedding, presented by Taiwan Open Theater Group, will be staged in Beijing.[Photo/China Daily]

The Wedding, a comedy drama presented by Taiwan-based Open Theater Group, has returned to Beijing, after its successful first round of performances in the capital earlier this year.

Adapted from Japanese playwright Sugako Hashida’s play by the same name, The Wedding revolves around Xu Jinhua, a single mother who raises four daughters all by herself from the 1980s.

Everything seems fine until she turns 59. Her children have been hiding things from her such as the pregnancy of the youngest daughter. Life for the family then becomes messy.

Chu Hung-chang, who directs the play, says he first read the script in 2005, and it made him laugh and cry. He then discussed it with Chang Dan-wei, the theater group’s artistic director.

“I thought the script was a good one for Open Theater Group to practice because most of the actors were female. But soon we agreed that it deserved to be enjoyed by more audiences in Taiwan,” says Chu. He is best known for working with award-winning director Ang Lee as the acting director for Lee’s espionage thriller Lust, Caution (2007).

Since The Wedding premiered in 2012, it has toured Taiwan, finding critical acclaim and commercial success.

“The play is very special to me. I don’t have children in real life and this role makes up for my regrets,” says Chang, a veteran theater actress, who plays the central role in The Wedding.

The 41-year-old has been with the group since 2002.

She says her mother died 13 years ago and whenever she plays Xu on the stage, Chang feels close to her mother again.

“The play displays the happiness and sufferings of a single mother and her four grown-up daughters. I believe that we all share something familiar in our own lives as women, about dealing with hardships in life, about marriage and about the unconditional love from a mother,” the actress says.

The director set the play in Taiwan’s Juancun village, where barracks were built in the late ‘40s and ‘50s to house Kuomintang soldiers and their families from the Chinese mainland after the Kuomintang’s retreat to Taiwan in 1949.

The village ended up as a permanent settlement and a distinct cultural hub in Taiwan.

“I spent a summer vacation in Juancun when I was in primary school. I was impressed by its unique culture because it has people, dialects, customs, clothes and food from various areas of China,” says Chu.

All the furniture, kitchenware and costumes used for the play were brought to Beijing from Taiwan when it was staged at the National Center for the Performing Arts in March for this year’s ongoing Beijing International Women’s Festival.

Going by the audience reaction, it was a hit, according to Li Zi, founder of the festival that runs through August.

The theater group, founded in 1998, broke several records in Taiwan with its drama productions.

“When I watched The Wedding, I was overwhelmed by the acting and touched by the story, which was about daily life but brought out in subtle and moving ways,” says Li.

If you go

7:30 pm, Tuesday-Thursday. Poly Theater, Poly Plaza, 13 Dongsi Shitiao, Dongcheng district, Beijing. 4006-228-228.

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