Westlake News WEMEET

World Famous Chinese Playwright Stan Lai Speaks at Westlake University

24, 2022

Email: zhangchi@westlake.edu.cn
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Playwright Stan Lai explored drama, literature, art, and life together with Westlake University Prof. Deming Zhang during the 19th Century Romance and Drama WeMeet event, where on Nov. 11 at Westlake.

Lai is one of the most famous Chinese dramatists in the world, hailed as "the preeminent Chinese playwright and stage director of this generation" by China Daily, and "the best Chinese language playwright and director in the world" by the BBC. His work, comprising more than 40 original choreographed and directed plays, "has pioneered the course of modern Chinese language theatre" according to Broadway World.

Lai, 58, is not only a playwright, but also a scholar of dramatic theory. He has taught at Stanford University as well as his alma mater, University of California, Berkeley. At present, he also serves as the founder and artistic director of the Taiwan Performance Workshop, the artistic director of the Theater Above, and director of the Wuzhen Theater Festival.

Lai has often said that Antonin Chekhov is not only "one of my favorite writers", but also "a bosom friend in my soul". Lai’s newest play “I Take Your Hand in Mind”, which is based on a work of the same name written by Chekhov scholar Dr. Carlo Rocamora, incorporates more than 800 love letters between Chekhov and his wife Olga during a period of six years, showcasing a common pursuit of drama and art beyond the intimacy between Chekhov and Olga in the final years of his life.

"Chekhov's plays show the complexity of life,” Lai observed. “Life is actually like this -- it is a special platter, a combination of greatness and the ordinary. We should look not merely at great people, nor those who are good or bad. You can’t find absolutes in Chekhov’s plays. Then, in the end, what are we looking at? We are looking at some very moving scenes, and these scenes are called life.”

In 2014, Lai translated “I Take Your Hand in Mineinto Chinese and put it on stage. In 2022, the Shanghai based Theater Above resumed production of this play, inviting renowned actors Shengyi Huang and Xiaosu Zhao to star in leading roles. The play will soon start a national tour.

In Hangzhou, Lai only gave a lecture at Westlake University. This honor reflects a bond between Lai. and the Westlake community as well as a shared appreciation for the charm of the theater and the philosophy of life.