Sign up for email newsletters

Sign up for email newsletters
The secret weapon in Yale University’s Vermilion Theater’s production of “Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land”: the person running the PowerPoint presentation.
Vermilion’s groundbreaking take on Taiwanese playwright Stan Lai’s “Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land” features projected subtitles to help audiences enjoy the Chinese-English bilingual production.
“We have 600 slides that one person has to click through over the almost two hours,” Vermilion artistic director Wisteria Deng told the Boston Herald with a laugh.
The technology behind the staging of “Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land” — Aug. 26 & 27 at Central Square Theater — might not be revolutionary. But everything else in the production is.
About a year ago, Deng and her co-founders began with an ambitious idea: Bridge cultural gaps through bilingual theater presentations. As their first production, they picked a topical and complex work in Lai’s “Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land,” which twists the play within a play format telling the story of two theater productions booked in one theater on the same night — a comedy-romance about a man searching for his wife in a magical land sits atop a tragic romance about lovers separated by civil war in China.
“It’s heartbreaking to say how much more timely the play is today,” Deng said, noting its connection to Taiwan. “The topic of longing, the sense of nostalgia, of wanting to go home, is a huge theme in the play. When we chose the play, I was also thinking about how COVID meant no international travel for a lot of immigrants, a lot of international students.”
Despite the complexity of the play, the nuance of the subject matter, the 600 PowerPoint slides that provide the English and Mandarin subtitles, Vermilion’s debut has been a hit. The first three shows in New Haven all sold out and Deng says she was pleasantly surprised to see that 70% of the audience was made up of non-Chinese speakers.
Someone in the New Haven audience had a connection to a theater in Flushing, N.Y., and brought the show there. Then someone in the Flushing audience had a connection to Cambridge’s Central Square Theater and brought it here this week. Deng says Vermilion plans to bring shows back to these theaters for its 2022-23 season.
But for Deng, the surest sign the production was a success wasn’t the ticket sales or the tour. It was the laughter from the audience.
“What really stuck with me was people said they were able to follow not just the plot but the punch lines,” Deng said. “That they were able to follow small, subtle things that were funny in another language and that that made them feel included. That’s the part I really enjoy.”
For tickets and details, go to facebook.com/vermilliontheater/.
We invite you to use our commenting platform to engage in insightful conversations about issues in our community. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable to us, and to disclose any information necessary to satisfy the law, regulation, or government request. We might permanently block any user who abuses these conditions.
Sign up for email newsletters
Copyright © 2022 MediaNews Group


Shop Sephari