Friday, May 04, 2007

This Sounds Absolutely Wonderful to Me

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial to be built in China??
by moose67

"Lou Dobbs just announced that the contract to build a memorial to America's greatest civil right leader is to be built in China by Chinese artisans."

moose67 is not pleased.

My comment

It seems to me that a monument designed and built by foreigners would be an excellent memorial to a man who asked us to judge by the content of character not the color of skin. Of course, I can't vouch for the character of Chinese artisans and still less for their employers, but to me such outsourcing would demonstrate commitment to the principle of non discrimination.
In fact, the possibility seems wonderful to me. I do not believe in discrimination on the basis of people's birth and, therefore, I am opposed in principle to discrimination in favor of US citizens. I am being absolutely serious.


Anonymous said...

May 30, 2006

Found in Translation: King's 'Dream' Plays in Beijing

BEIJING — For months now, Caitrin McKiernan has gone from place to place in this city to ask Chinese people an unlikely question: What does the life of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. mean to you?

The questions don't end there, either. In most of these gatherings, she gets far more specific, burrowing into the history and tactics of the American civil rights movement.

"Who knows what the Montgomery bus boycott was?" she asked a group of university students in May. "What is a sit-in?" "What's the meaning of separate but equal?" At the level of language, every one of those terms presents a formidable challenge, even to a woman who has spent years in this country and speaks fluent Chinese.

But language is not the half of it. How can one translate Dr. King's actions into the realm of ideas for an audience in a city notably hostile to protests? How does one convey to Chinese people the meaning of the life of a man who died fighting for civil rights nearly 40 years ago?

The answers may have begun to emerge since the production at the National Theater on Sunday of the play "Passages of Martin Luther King Jr." by the noted King scholar Clayborne Carson and based on the life and words of the American civil rights leader. Ms. McKiernan, who studied under Mr. Carson at Stanford and is the play's producer, was prepared for any kind of audience response, from deeply moved to completely stumped and anything in between.

But the responses of Ms. McKiernan's discussion groups and the reactions of her cast suggested that Dr. King's message would hit home here, that Chinese viewers would see parallels to divisions in their own society. That prospect poses a thorny problem for the government, which, on one hand, has endorsed Dr. King's work as a blow for the class struggle and against American imperialism, but on the other insists that racism and discrimination are purely problems of decadent Western societies.

The government, however, gave the production its imprimatur, and permission to play at the prestigious theater.

A distinct possibility was that the universality of Dr. King's message and the causes he fought for would completely escape Chinese viewers.

But the reactions Ms. McKiernan has heard so far suggest otherwise, and give her reason to hope that her dream of building a bridge between the societies by talking about peaceful struggle and universal rights has some hold on reality.

During one recent discussion at a Beijing university, after viewing excerpts from the PBS documentary "Eyes on the Prize," students explored their feelings on the discrimination they discern between migrant workers and more affluent residents of the country's eastern cities. Others spoke about the inferior position of women in their society or of being treated badly during visits overseas or the predominance of American power in the world.

"The significance of Martin Luther King for me is that we have to have the courage to stand up for our legitimate benefits," said a Chinese student who identified himself as Paul....


Anonymous said...

September 10, 1989

Death of a Salesman in China

FOXBURY, Conn. -- That month in Beijing six years ago was exhausting but exhilarating, too. As the first foreign theatrical director in the People's Republic of China, I was directing ''Death of a Salesman'' with Chinese actors in Beijing's People's Art Theater, the equivalent of the Moscow Art Theater. There was a lot of skepticism surrounding the project, with many Chinese and foreigners doubting that the Chinese audience would understand the very American play.

As it turned out, we needn't have worried. ''Salesman'' is about a family and business, and the Chinese practically invented both, and their reaction was little different than audience reaction had been in New York City and in theaters in any other Western city.

The man who made it all possible was Ying Ruocheng, actor, director (he played the leading role of the prison warden in the movie ''The Last Emperor''). He is also a scholar and linguist and did the incredible ''Salesman'' translation. It was so close to the English that I found myself able to stop actors on specific lines in order to change their interpretations.

Mr. Ying played Willy Loman brilliantly, acted as my translator to the actors, and, of course, also cast the play. The production has become a staple in the repertoire and has played all over China, and I have been told that it has been a strong influence on the new generation of China's playwrights.

I am putting this down for a reason. Mr. Ying's father was the head of Beijing University and decided to leave China when the Revolution exploded, taking the family to Taiwan. Then in his teens, Mr. Ying soon decided to return to the mainland to cast his fate with the new regime, and, despite being exiled to the distant countryside during the Cultural Revolution, has never ceased being a passionate but sagacious patriot. Not long ago, he was appointed Vice Minister of Culture - a sacrifice for so busy an actor in both films and theater.

With the novelist Wang Meng, who a bit earlier had been made Minister of Culture, Mr. Ying began the immense work of opening China to world literature and art, to which it had been largely closed off.

As one who had worked in Europe in film, Mr. Ying had a more accurate understanding than most of China's need to create its own modernist styles, while retaining its uniqueness.

There are not many Chinese with his background, his profound knowledge and love for the Chinese cultural past and a sophisticated appreciation of foreign works and trends. The development of a contemporary Chinese culture is hard to imagine without such people, rare as they are....


Anonymous said...

March 5, 2005

The Peacock Princess of China

KUNMING, China - Ever since Yang Liping won first prize in a national dance competition in 1986, she has been delighting Chinese audiences with her signature dance, "Spirit of the Peacock."

Now, Ms. Yang, one of China's best-known dancers, is the director, choreographer and star of a new show that is drawing sellout crowds all over the country.

The show, "Dynamic Yunnan," which is expected to travel to Europe and the United States later this year, features Ms. Yang and about 70 other performers from Yunnan Province, in southwestern China, staging ritualistic folk dances, beating drums, stomping, singing and floating elegantly across the stage like butterflies.

The show is the latest coming-out party for Ms. Yang, who, though not well known outside of China, is known here as a stern but creative and independent force in Chinese dance. And even at 47, she can dance like a spirited youth, contorting her slender frame and whipping her arms, legs and fingers in vivid representations of animals and other aspects of the natural world.

"I just love to dance," Ms. Yang said over dinner after a performance here in Kunming, Yunnan's provincial capital. "My nature is to dance all the time. After I eat, I want to start dancing all over again."

To prepare the show, Ms. Yang said she spent more than a year traveling to remote villages in her native Yunnan, studying local dances, recording disappearing folk songs and recruiting dozens of young people from ethnic minority groups. Yunnan is China's most ethnically diverse province.

Many of the villages she visited were wedged between mountains and seemingly lost to the modern world. There she encountered the folk rhythms of farmers and villagers who seemed to have a natural aptitude for song and dance.

"In these villages, people have songs and dances for every event - when they're happy, at harvest time, when they're getting married or mourning," she said. "It's not a choice, it's a lifestyle."

Ms. Yang is also a dancer by nature. She was born about 100 miles northwest of here, in the town of Dali, the eldest of four children. Her parents and grandparents, members of the Bai ethnic minority, were farmers in a nearby village. As was true for everyone in their village, she said, singing and dancing were a part of their lives.

"My grandmother was the best singer in the village," Ms. Yang said, grabbing a bowl of rice at a restaurant near Kunming's performing arts center. "I clearly remember, when I was 6 years old, waking up and hearing my grandmother's voice. My grandfather had died and she sang all day long - all the details of their life together. This was our life. My family loved to sing and dance." ...