Northwestern Events Calendar


Welcome to My Dream! - Honglou meng as Grand Opera, Marathon Play, and Durational Installation

When: Monday, March 4, 2024
11:00 AM - 12:30 PM CT

Where: Kresge Hall, 1515, 1880 Campus Drive , Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Department of Asian Languages and Cultures   (847) 491-5288

Group: Department of Asian Languages and Cultures

Co-Sponsor: East Asia Research Forum

Category: Academic


Since its publication in 1791, Honglou meng (Dream of the Red Chamber) has been subjected to constant adaptations across genres and media. This lecture examines the afterlives of the Chinese classic in some of most experimental theatrical projects staged in the United States. How was the novel re-envisioned by the producers and viewed by the audience as it moved beyond the cultural boundaries of East Asia and Sinophone communities? How far can we dream and still help to better understand the musical, psychological, and identity-driven features of the literary canon?

Professor Wu explores these themes through three approaches and plays. Bright Sheng’s Dream of the Red Chamber at San Francisco Opera offers a musical approach. With English libretto and Western orchestration, this work pushes the musical elements found in the original work to unfamiliar terrain. Staged in Inglewood California, Henry Ong’s marathon play Dream of the Red Chamber offered an ethnically diverse cast, highlighting the questions regarding identity asked in the novel. Jim Findlay’s Dream of the Red Chamber questions the construction of human mind as a durational installation performance staged in Time Square, New York City: with the plot completely deconstructed, the audience was encouraged to roam around the production’s immersive environment, to fall asleep in the space, and to dream their way to consciousness. In these works, the producers made the Dream their own, turning themselves into the ideal reader, as anticipated by the novel itself.

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