War and no peace
A group of Taiwanese dramatize their own haunting experiences from the Chinese revolutionary era in the vignettes of "If You Had Called Me."
By JOSHUA TANZER
Four Taiwanese women and four Taiwanese men come out on stage and, one by one, recount the
details of their early lives in China. Birth, education, marriage, the memories of ordinary
lives punctuated by violent upheaval as the Chinese revolution of 1949 drove them
abruptly away from home forever.
"If You Had Called Me: Echoes of Taiwan" grew out of a kind of group-therapy gathering in
Taiwan, in which members of the 1949 generation met to share their life experiences.
Reportedly, they were reluctant to discuss the tragic details of their flight to Taiwan,
but director Peng Ya-Ling drew out their tragic stories and persuaded them to
participate in these dramatically staged re-enactments.
|IF YOU HAD CALLED ME|
|Directed by: Peng Ya-Ling.|
Cast: Wu Ming, Yang Chi-Tang, Ksiang-Tsuai Tung-Hai, Shen-Yang Cheng-Yi, Ku-Liu Hsiu-Ching, Ho-Wang Hsiu-Ching, Chiang Chien-Yu, Tu Yi-Chin, Chang Shin, Cheng Ching Chih.
Company: Uhan Shii Theatre Group.
In Mandarin Chinese without subtitles.
1221 Avenue of the Americas
Fri.-Sat., June 9 and 10, at 8 p.m.
Sun., June 11, at 2 p.m.
Tickets $15; students, seniors $10
(212) 373-1850; Ticketmaster (212) 307-7171
So many discussions of Taiwan and China are explicitly political, but these stories are
largely intimate, personal ones about families torn apart and children set adrift. The
eight adults are joined by four youngsters who play the actors as children at the adults'
own feet, linking past and present on stage. One man remembers the children being offered
for sale at a marketplace, and a haggard but eager mom hawks one of her little girls,
saying, "She can wash clothes! She can cook! She can clean!" A woman purchases one of the
boys with hardly a thought, and is uncomprehending when he won't obey her order to come
away with her, as if buying him was the most natural thing in the world.
In another story, a mother must flee to Vietnam and leave her small daughter behind with her grandmother. She returns heartbroken when her daughter ignores her pleas to call her "mother."|
The play is presented in Chinese, and the director has consciously decided not to provide subtitles. "The important thing is not the language the important thing is that it holds up a mirror to us," Peng explained after a preview. It is possible to get the feeling of the show with a smattering or less of Chinese, but certainly a good deal of meaning is lost. Yet, what comes through is the depth of emotion that the participants, not professional actors but quite convincing on stage, obviously feel as they recount their own stories.
|JUNE 8, 2000|
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