31 Asian American Plays in 31 Days: LETTERS TO A STUDENT REVOLUTIONARY

letters Albany U 31 Asian American Plays in 31 Days Letters to a Student Revolutionary31 Asian American Plays in 31 Days

Bibi Lee is a typically jaded American rebel reluctantly on a “back to your roots” family vacation in China. Desperately, Bibi sets out to find fast food and familiar faces. Instead, she finds Karen, a young, idealistic Chinese girl who wants to practice a little English. From this seemingly innocent chance encounter, these two young women—one Chinese, the other Chinese-American—embark on a charming, poignant 10-year correspondence, cut abruptly and tragically short by the June 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. This bittersweet tale seeks to make sense of history, how we participate in it and how we are overwhelmed by it. By focusing on the loves and losses, desires and disappointments of Bibi and Karen, the play explores ideas of capitalism and communism, and ultimately becomes a clarion call to remember the price of democracy.
While references are dated (its almost 18 years since Tiananmen!), I almost think the two countries have traded places in the intervening decades. A straight up revival would work; a “sequel” would also work, reflecting on the changes the two countries have gone through (and how they haven’t changed).
Pan Asian Rep, 1991, directed by Ernest Abuba, with Caryn Ann Chow, Karen Tsan Lee, Andrew Ingkaver, Mary Lum, Christen Villamor and Keena Shimizu
Picture from Albany NY production.


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