Chi-Mei Wang‎ > ‎

1987 The Orphan of the World

 Play Title 

The Orphan of the World


30th May 1987


 Play Synopsis 

The entirety of The Orphan of the World is made up of over twenty vignettes.  The play does not center around one single event or character but is a history of Taiwan and an observational report on society mixed with a method of satirical criticism to give an account of the concern and worry young people have towards Taiwan.   At the curtain’s rise, a group of actors playing private school children stand at stage right with their backs to the audience reciting from Confucius’ Three Character Classic and the history textbook A Comprehensive History of Taiwan.  At the same time, four modern young people stand at the center of the stage taking turns rebuking Taiwan while at stage left a female actor wearing a white tennis polo (to represent western culture) plays tennis as she simultaneously lists one by one all of the accomplishments of western civilization in English.  The three different spaces are concurrently interjecting.  The school children role play the history of Taiwan during the Qing Dynasty, acting out the meeting between Hsien-Tang Lin (林獻堂)and Qi-Chao Liang (梁啟超).  Qi-Chao Liang says that the Qing Dynasty doesn’t have the power to save Taiwan and that it wants Taiwan to use non-violent methods to protest the Japanese occupation.  The school children continue to talk about Taiwanese history through to the end of Japanese rule on the island. In one section: Western cigarettes are thrown everywhere, children start to learn English and think that studying abroad is better than studying in Taiwan.  Later they perform Castrated Chicken, a Japanese occupation-era play that is accompanied by all-Taiwanese ballads.  In the middle of the performance, the power goes out and the audience uses flashlights to watch the performance.  The next day, however, they are barred from using the music and Taiwanese ballads are banned from use in any other plays.  During the renovation of Love River, the budget reports from Taiwanese government administrators are corrupted and the Keelung River is full of piles of everyone’s refuse.  One by one, everyone also throws all their garbage onto the stage; every shape and size of garbage and cloth scraps are left on the stage.  Finally, the actors play the role of garbage collectors and clean the stage of all its mess.  They attempt to end the final scene in the same manner as the first act by reciting the idiom “Dancing in the ocean, the beautiful island”, but find they have no voices with which to speak.