Friday, July 26th, 9 pm:
Lao She’s “Teahouse”
a bilingual reading of excerpts

Teahouse“Don’t Discuss State Affairs” (a sign mounted on the wall of the Yutai Teahouse — 1898, 1917, 1945)

Lao She’s Teahouse is a classic of the Chinese theatre from the late 1950s, an episodic observation over the decades from the turn of the 20th century through the 1940s, set in a milieu where the common preoccupations of the day — not so very different from era to era — waft through the air.

Written in 1957, the play premiered in Beijing in 1958, mounted by the Beijing People’s Art Theatre.  It ran for a remarkable and unprecedented 100 or more performances.  Teahouse was brought back to the stage on the eve of the Cultural Revolution in 1963; however, it was removed from the repertoire once that period set in.  Lao She was interrogated roughly and publicly humiliated as were many, and died in an apparent suicide in 1966.  Teahouse was revived by the Beijing People’s Art Theatre in a 1979 production which toured internationally to great acclaim, and was revived again by the same company in 2005, again touring worldwide, seen by Bay Area audiences in that year at Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall.  Read more on the play here and here.

From the Bird & Beckett stage, we’ll hear a few scenes read in English, trading off with friends in Shanghai who will participate via Skype, reading from the Chinese original, a text known for Lao She’s masterful rendering of Beijing dialect.