by Naya Chang
I have always wanted to use theatre as a means to build a bridge between Eastern and Western cultures.Creating an onstage production can give audiences exposure to cultures that may not be familiar.Theatre has that power!I am very proud to bring a part of my culture onto the stage here at Brandeis University.
In The Orphan of Zhao, individuals struggle for justice in the face of oppression and the misuse of power. This theme recurs throughout history.Recall the lone college student who stopped a battalion of tanks in their tracks by simply standing in front of them during the 1989 massacre of Tiananmen Square. Each character that tries to save the Orphan embodies the spirit of that student.
I hope that this play forces us to reflect on the importance of human rights and what each of us deems worth fighting for. I decided to depict the violence on stage in a realistic and graphic way. Beauty coexists with violence and pain—a reality that I feel is important to confront.
I decided to make Cheng Ying, traditionally a male character, a woman in this production because I wanted to explore the strengths of motherhood.Cheng Ying’s sacrifice and burden is extraordinary.The Orphan of Zhao carries on Cheng Ying’s journey, fulfills his family’s legacy and moves on to become a great leader.
It is a humbling and wonderful experience to have a playwright and designers take my vision and create their own interpretations of it.I love that process and I think that’s what makes it theatre.My goal of building a bridge between eastern and western cultures certainly were embodied in this process with a truly talented, multi-cultural team.
Links for review and more information about the production: