The Claremont College Chinese Drama Society will premiere its first play, The Station, Wednesday, Nov. 27 at Pomona’s Seaver Theatre. The Chinese Drama Society, which was founded by Sean Xin PO ’16 at the beginning of the fall 2013 semester, seeks to promote Chinese culture and theater and is open to all interested students.
Xin was inspired to create the club by his own positive experiences participating in Chinese theater. He also cited the increasing number of people learning the language at the Claremont Colleges as an influence.
Alex Zhao PZ ’16, a member of the society and one of the three directors of the group’s upcoming play, expressed the importance of creating the club.
“It increases the diversity of activities at the Claremont Colleges. Because we are showcasing dramas in Chinese, it may also be helpful for those interested in learning the language, as they can learn more about the culture,” Zhao said.
The club is one of the first student-run Chinese theater groups in the nation and currently has around 30 active members across the Claremont Colleges.
Last year, the Claremont Colleges hosted a workshop for those interested in Chinese culture and language where attendees read classical Chinese literature. According to Xin, it was there that he was first exposed to the script of The Station and was inspired to choose it as the club’s first performance.
The Station, more widely known as The Bus Stop, is a classical play written in 1983 by Xingjian Gao, an acclaimed Chinese playwright who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2000. The play is often seen as controversial, as it was banned in China the year of its debut for its political implications. The play tells the story of eight people of different ages and backgrounds who arrive at the same bus stop, waiting for a bus that never comes. The play focuses on a scene at the station, the conflicts that arise, and the events that occur while they wait together.
The Station will be performed in Chinese and directed by Zhao, Tingyu Huang PO ’16, and Taotao Zhou PZ ’15. There are eight acting roles, while the club’s other members will be working behind the scenes and managing the production’s costumes, makeup, props, lighting, sound, and more.
The play, which has been the focus of the group for several months, is coming along smoothly.
“We’re all very excited. The actors are getting better and better with each rehearsal, and we are all really enjoying the process,” Zhao said.
Xin has big goals for the club in the future. He hopes to eventually perform a play written in English by a Chinese playwright, in order to expand the club’s audience and membership while still supporting Chinese culture and drama. He also hopes to partner with the Chinese and art departments in order to create a class dedicated to either Chinese or Asian theater in general, and to expand the organization beyond the Claremont Colleges.
“Eventually, we want the club to reach a certain level where we are not just part of the 5Cs. We want to reach out to the surrounding communities and co-organize and co-perform events with big universities like UCLA and USC. We want to be big and we want to be successful,” Xin said.