Ma Yihang, PhD Candidate, Graduate Institute of Taiwan Literature, National Taiwan University
Taipei Dad, New York Mom was originally an essay collection written by documentary director Chen Junzhi and published by China Times Publishing in 2011. The work is a history of Chen’s diasporic family life, revealing his experiences, emotions, desires, family conflicts, and return. Family separations and a search for gender are interwoven throughout Taipei Dad, New York Mom. Writing from a documentarian’s point of view, Chen explores his extended family, which is like a double-edged sword, simultaneously capable of restraint and betrayal, hurt and consolation. Many works depict the lives of Taiwanese in America, but Taipei Dad, New York Mom reflects a number of important issues, such as expatriate women’s vulnerability in the areas marriage, work, and family relations. In a dispersed family structure, how do gender identity and family clash and come together again? An intellectual analysis of the diasporic experience in gorgeous prose, Taipei Dad, New York Mom has become a classic of Taiwanese diaspora literature.
The stage play Taipei Dad, New York Mom (2012) was adapted and directed by Li Huanxiong and performed by the Mr. Wing Theatre Company. Li’s adaptation carries on the original’s diaspora and gender themes; however, the rich theatrical vocabulary, Chen Junzhi’s family members’ perspective, and the addition of sound effects all intensify the tension of division, reconstruction, possession and betrayal in the family story. Various metaphoric stage elements lend the play a fable-like quality, turning it into a huge microcosm of family drama. In addition to using lighting and imagery’s spatial sense to create feelings of loneliness, isolation, separation, and movement, the stage lighting that envelops the characters, darkness and echo effects, and documentary-like projected images allow the stage space and the characters’ bodies to interact and respond to each other to an even great extent, see-sawing back and forth.
Use of symbolist techniques within the limited stage space fine-tunes the elements of separation, migration, and loneliness, the play’s defining characteristics. And when the director transposes the essay collection’s individual perspective into the multiple perspectives of both family members and those outside the family, the question the play throws out becomes: “Who will tell my story?” The characters’ conflicts, conspiracies, and confrontations expand the borders of diasporic narrative, refining the essays’ lyricism, allowing audiences to look into neglected nooks and crannies filled with toil and trouble.
|Related Literary Themes：||Diaspora Literature|