From Mary – History, Stories, and Dramaturgy Behind the Dream

  • This project began when we began noticing a large influx of Chinese tourists appearing daily in the small park next to the theatre. Our story-gathering among the tourists themselves taught us many things. 1) Some of them come to gamble and then to relax; some come to trade in their “free-gamble” cards and earn money; and some come simply to get out of the city and enjoy a day in a place that is “beautiful” and where “all the people are friendly.” 2) Many of the elderly Chinese moved to America after retiring in order to move in with their grown children, as is traditional in China. 3) Some of the men are unemployed and riding the buses is the only way they can make money. As one of the gentlemen told us, “this is no way to live.”
  • Elements of Chinese culture have been woven into the play. The I Ching, also known as the Classic of Changes, Book of Changes, Zhouyi, and Yijing, is one of the oldest of the Chinese classic texts. The book contains a divination system comparable to Western geomancy and is still very popular. The oldest manuscript dates back to 475-221 BCE. The text of the i-ching is represented by 64 sets of six lines each called hexagrams. The six stacked horizontal lines are either yang (an unbroken line) or yin (a broken line with a gap in the middle). The hexagram you will see in the play represents “wealth.”
  • The Lehigh Valley branch of the Huaxia Chinese School was founded in 1998, in response to the growing local Chinese community. Parents sought a means of keeping their Chinese-American children in touch with their heritage, home, and language. Today, the school meets at Northampton Community College and serves nearly 200 students.
  • istockphoto_4570927-ginkgo-leafYou will hear reference to gingko trees and nuts. The gingko, 銀杏, or “maidenfern” is considered a living fossil, recognizably similar to fossils dating back 270 years. Native to China, it has various uses in traditional medicine and as a source of food. The Gingko is widely used in cities around the world as shade trees due to their tolerance of harsh conditions. Extreme examples of the ginkgo’s tenacity may be seen in Hiroshima, Japan, where six trees growing between 1–2 km from the 1945 atom bomb explosion survived and were soon healthy again. The trees are alive to this day.
  • It is said that tai-chi is “Taoism in motion.” The foundation concepts of t’ai chi ch’uan, come from Lao Tzu’s monumental text, Tao Te Ching, from the I Ching and from various other health-promoting and breathing exercise treatises.  The actual art can be traced back “only” 300 to 700 years, however.  There are many varieties of tai-chi practiced today.
  • 303920_2052804916741_789048184_nThe production includes music played on the guzheng, a traditional stringed instrument. Composed of 18 to 21 plucked strings and movable bridges, the guzheng has been one of the most commonly-played Chinese musical instruments since the seventh century. The guzheng music featured in the show is arranged and performed by Xiang Xiang (Lu Lu) Hé, one of our interviewees in the story gathering process.
  • Families with Children from China is a network of parent support groups in the US, Canada, and the UK. Operated through over a hundred local chapters, the network strives to support families who’ve adopted from China, to encourage adoption from China, and to advocate for and support children remaining in Chinese orphanages.
  • From 1872 to 1875, the Qing government sent the very first of 120 young students in China’s history to the U.S.A to gain mechanical and scientific knowledge in order to initiate the construction of a Western-style military and industrial complex in China. Among those young students, three registered at Lehigh University in the fall of 1879. Unfortunately, when the Qing government got cold feet in 1882, they were forced to withdraw. Even so, this was the beginning of a long history of Lehigh’s engagement with China.FeaturePhoto-china-2
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