Presents Premiere of The Golden Lotus
Prominent Chinese director and writer Wang Yansong will
direct the world premiere of his new play The Golden
Lotus, running in Theatre 14 at Mendenhall Center for
the Performing Arts October 29 through November 1, at 8 p.m.
each night. Matinee shows are also scheduled for November
1 and 2 at 2 p.m.
A scene from The Golden Lotus: Ximen Qing (played
by Draper Harris, UMass ’09) consults with Golden Lotus
(Abbie Chase ’10) as two ghosts (Melissa King ’12 and
Manqing Cang ’12 observe from afar.
The Golden Lotus is based on a classical Chinese
novel, Jin Ping Mei, which was written during the
late Ming Dynasty. The book, declared pornographic and banned
for centuries, was secretly read by many educated elite Chinese.
The play reinterprets many of the book’s familiar stock
characters, including Golden Lotus–beautiful, cold,
scheming adulteress; Ping’er–pure, calm, loving
wife; and Wu Song–upright, unflappable, heroic tiger
The play was translated
by Josh Steinberg and Nan Zhang with contributions from
Nora Mally ’10 and Ellen Morf ‘09J.
Cast members include: Abbie Chase ’10 as Golden Lotus;
Emily Lennon ’09 as Mother Wang; Meredith Mitchell ’10
as Ping’er; Sam Rush, production coordinator for Smith
College Theatre and founder of New Century Theatre, as Wu
Da; Draper Harris (UMass’09) as Ximen Qing; and Doug
Zhang (UMass graduate student) as Wu Song.
On Friday, October 31, from 4-5:30 p.m. in T207A in the
Mendenhall Center, Wang will give a presentation of his professional
work, especially his productions of plays written by Cao
Yu, one of the most influential playwrights in China in the
20th century. He will then respond to questions from the
Wang, who often employs choruses in his theatrical productions,
plans a chorus of six for Lotus, each representing
one of the main characters. The chorus will move the action
along, forming a bridge between the living and the dead,
and create soundscapes.
While exploring sexual politics and gender roles in traditional
Chinese society, Wang’s play is also an allegory of
human corruption whose characters grapple with love and seduction,
loyalty and treachery, ambition and revenge–and ghostly
Wang has written and directed more than 30 plays, musicals
and operas and published several articles on the theories
and practice of stage direction. His production Da Cuo
Che (Taking the Wrong Train) is considered
to be the first modern musical in China. It premiered in
1984 at a 12,000-seat stadium for three sold-out nights and
went on to enjoy a run of 1,460 performances at various venues.
His most recent productions include two critically acclaimed
interpretations of plays by Cao Yu, considered to be one
of the most significant playwrights of 20th-century China.
Wang Yansong’s directorial works have won numerous
awards in China and abroad, and he has been invited to direct
and teach in Russia, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and the United
States. He received his Master of Fine Arts in directing
from the Shanghai Academy of Drama in 1982.
Ed Check, set designer for Lotus and a senior lecturer
in theatre, traveled to China last summer along with Kiki
Smith, costume designer and professor of theatre, to meet
with Wang and Nan Zhang, lecturer in lighting design at Smith,
to discuss the staging of the play.
Tickets for The Golden Lotus ($8 general public,
$5 students/seniors, $1 for students only on October 30)
can be purchased by calling the Mendenhall box office, 413-585-ARTS.