Eileen Chang died in 1995 in Los Angeles, a relative unknown in American literature circles but highly regarded in Chinese literature. It was around this time that writer-director Evans Chan came across a paper written by the publisher of Crown Publishing, who recalled Chang’s disapproval when they would not publish her novel (due to disparaging remarks about Chang Kaishek and Chairman Mao). After realizing that what he had read was an abridged version of the 1954 novel, Chan reread the then-available, unedited version and was compelled to write his dramatic adaptation, which is being presented by Yangtze Repertory at NYC’s Bank St. Theatre through June 11.
Chan’s adaptation introduces us to Chinese POW Liu Chuen, who is being questioned by US Army officer Herb, a character not in Chang’s original novel. “I invented character Herb, whose profile is vaguely based on (McCarthy witch-hunt target) John Service,” states Chan. Chuen recalls his life amid a China enveloped in political and social unrest.
Yangtze Artistic Director Dr. Joanna Chan directs this multi-tiered story of love and betrayal, with choreography by Yung Yung Tsuai, set by Ann Lommel, lighting by Aaron Spivey, and music by Sola Liu.
The Naked Truth is performed in English at the Bank Street Theatre, 155 Bank St. From June 1-11. Tickets can be purchased by calling (718) 263-8829.
-- by Ernio Hernandez