Saturday, March 01, 2008

It's Chinese Drama Night on campus again. Tonight's performance of the White Cloud Gang was for the first time a feature-length production rather than the usual double or triple bill.

The plot involves a cursed Chinese hairpin imbued with unholy power by a vengeful butterfly spirit bent on bringing down a dynastic kingdom over the emperor's indiscretions with her. The curse is so potent and so transcendant across time and space that disaster befalls the present-day family and friends of a teenaged girl who happens to find the ancient hairpin while on a camping trip.

It really is thanks to Amy that I've got the plot figured out this far. With the absence of in-house subtitles, Amy kept a running translation of dialogue and situation for me so I wouldn't feel too far behind.

A couple of observations: performers seemed very anxious to leave the stage -- before the scene has had time to build, it was over as there was no one left onstage to engage the situation. As a result, the occurrences and encounters offstage often appeared more interesting than what was happening onstage. Too bad all the characters tended to be so conflict averse. Lots of spicy details could have come out if the characters had interacted with one another more, but everyone was just too much in a hurry to leave in a huff instead.

Also, too many unnecessary scene changes in long blackouts. There were fewer and faster blackouts this year, but still... The kids who write these scripts tend to write as though they are producing TV drama in which a quick cut can warp time and space in an instantl. This convention does not work for theatre with a 'live' audience, obviously.

Wonder what people are going to think of our Eunuch Admiral play in April? Chances are, the audience will be just as confused.

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