Bedtime theater

By Sun Shuangjie Source:Global Times Published: 2016/7/12 17:48:01

Director Stan Lai to stage first children’s play, scripted with his daughter

In many theatergoers' eyes, US-born Taiwanese playwright and theater director Stan Lai is a serious man of wisdom, as his productions often go beyond telling a good story to offering thought-provoking content that lingers after the show.

But in the observations of his friends, this 61-year-old has always been a "big boy," who loves Coke, snacks and the NBA and has a curious and ingenious mind like a child.

A father of two daughters and now a grandfather, Lai is envied by his wife, famed actress and theater producer Ding Nai-chu, for his close relationship with the younger generations in their family.

"Compared to me, Lai knows better how to play with children," Ding said. At home, Lai is a good bedtime storyteller, who doesn't read others' stories but improvises his own.

Now after creating dozens of acclaimed theater productions for the general audience, Lai is preparing his first children's play.

From August 3 to 28, Theatre Above will stage a fairy tale titled Blue Horse, which is directly inspired from Lai's bedtime stories for his daughters and grandchildren.

In Lai's house, there is a poster of Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky's The Blue Rider, which inspired Lai to create a bedtime story for his daughters featuring a blue horse.

Blue Horse is directly inspired from Stan Lai's bedtime stories for his daughters and grandchildren. Photo: Courtesy of Theatre Above

"It's about a girl named Qiqi who sees a horse outside of her bedroom window and then is led by the horse to another world. This story turned out to be very long, as each time I found something new to continue it and eventually it becomes a never-ending story," Lai said.

He worked on the script with his younger daughter, Celeste, and his son-in-law Peyton Skyler Harrison, both of whom are animators.

In the play, Qiqi takes piano lessons under the pressure of her mother, who wishes her to become a pianist. But deep inside, Qiqi longs to write her own song to express what she feels and wants to say.

After her grandmother passed away, she inherited her guitar, and Qiqi plays it when she feels down. One day she sees an injured blue horse with wings outside her window, and she discovers that her music can help the horse recover.

Celeste Lai also created a comic book for the story. And the roles of Qiqi and the blue horse will be delivered in the play through puppets based on the images in the book, while other characters will be acted by Theatre Above's adult performers.

Lai also sings and plays the guitar, and he created three theme songs for the play. He played them on his own and recorded them for the show.

Sandra Woodall is handling stage and costume design, and aims to abandon multimedia displays and replace them with handmade materials for a distinct and friendly environment for children.

Lai told the Global Times that they will use the same method as they did in their performance workshop to do Blue Horse, aiming to make the story for children and also appreciable for adults.

"The play touches upon a lot of things in the adult world, and I think it would be interesting for parents to discover that," Lai said.

"For instance, the character of Qiqi's mother kind of reflects many parents in our society."

The play will be delivered in Chinese language with English subtitles, and is suitable for viewers aged 3 and up. Through this play, Lai also wanted to share his experiences with children.

"I always treat a child as an independent individual even when he or she is only 1 or 2 years old. I will say to them two basic things: one is to respect everything in the world, and the other is that you have the ability to think and to make your own choices," Lai added.

Address: 5/F, Metro City, 1111 Zhaojiabang Road 肇嘉浜路1111号美罗城5楼

Tickets: 100 yuan to 280 yuan

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