WestConn professor has three-act play performed in China
DANBURY, CONN. — When a young American soldier becomes a prisoner of war during the Korean War, he chooses to seek refuge in Red China at the time of armistice to chase his dreams of a better world.
This is the theme of “Twin-Sun River: An American POW in China,” a three-act play written by Western Connecticut State University Associate Professor of English Dr. Shouhua Qi.
The play debuted in April at the Shanghai Theater Academy with eight performances. After a staged reading of “Twin-Sun River” was sponsored by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in New York in March 2008, Tong Ruimin of the academy asked Qi about presenting the play.
“There were a hundred people involved in the production with 20 actors,” Qi said. The American consulate personnel in China were invited to the final performance. “They were laughing with tears in their eyes.” The theme was altered slightly to put the peace theme more in the foreground than the original play, Qi said, to make it more “politically correct” for China. “In my play, the theme is that humanity transcends political and cultural boundaries.”
The play is narrated by Private First-Class Simon Mackenzie, who disappears in the heartland of China to find his dream of solace; but his dream is tested over and over by flood, famine and the Chinese Revolution. He becomes enmeshed with a Chinese family whose only son did not return from the Korean War and falls in love with the soldier’s “widowed” wife. He is suspected of being a spy for the Russians and is beaten by the Red Guards. Throughout his trials, Mackenzie realizes that he cannot run away from his destiny, which is to build his own peaceful existence in his own heart.
“My goal is to get the younger generation to see the history of the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s, not just the boom of China as the next superpower,” Qi said. “The Korean War is a forgotten war in this country, too. It’s the first war the U.S. didn’t win. It’s not the most glorious page in our history. We don’t want to forget our soldiers and their history. We don’t want to forget the lessons we draw from it.”
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