By Emily Schloss
This past weekend I had the privilege of assisting Zhu Yi in the rehearsals for the staged reading of her play, “I Am A Moon.” The play had been performed in years past by the Chinese Theater Club in Chinese, but in chatting with Ms. Yi, I learned that the play was originally scripted in English, not her native language of Chinese. The play is Yi’s thesis from her graduate school years at Columbia University in New York. I was surprised and interested by the fact that she made changes to the script during rehearsals for the Global Voices reading because it has been years since she completed the work.
Despite the years in between the conception of the play and this reading of it, Yi doesn’t seem to have lost her connection to the work and why she crafted it the way she did. The play is dedicated to Ai Iijima, a late Japanese pornographic star who is referenced throughout the play, but in examining the work, I realized that Yi intended for her spirit to sort of haunt the characters of the play. Janice Akers, who directed the reading, had the actress reading the stage directions physically get up at the end of the play and make contact with the character most haunted by Iiijima, which I thought was a very thought-provoking choice, almost helping the play come full circle in front of the audience’s eyes, as the play opens with a long soliloquy about the star.
I saw other areas of circularity throughout the play like the ideas of orbiting, the moon, and how one generation succeeds the next. However, in a play with such dramatic and deep undertones (amidst moments of clever humor), I did not see many peaks in the narr ative—by that I mean high turning points. In talking to playwright, she mentioned to me that playwrights must have a high melting point for their work, and should be careful not to melt themselves before their audience. In other words, Yi meant that the writer should not only satisfy what will emotionally move him/herself with scenes of high melodrama, but should consider how the other details that contribute to the picture that is the play can move audiences without clichés. This idea of Yi’s is something I will definitely take with me in my own playwriting pursuits, and help me revise the dramatic work I’ve already created.
Emily Schloss is a playwriting major in the college from Scarsdale, New York.