SOAS University of London

Centre of Taiwan Studies

In Conversation with Playwright and Theatre Director Stan Lai 賴聲川

Stan Lai
Stan Lai & Jonathan Man

Date: 13 October 2018Time: 3:00 PM

Finishes: 13 October 2018Time: 5:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: KLT

Type of Event: Discussion


Stan Lai is a Taiwanese playwright and theatre director whose works are influential throughout the Chinese speaking world. This talk will outline his career in Taiwan and how this has branched out internationally, in theatre, film & opera, and also reflect on his work with universities in Asia and the U.S., and his role as festival director at the Wuzhen theatre festival. He will also explore some of the barriers and opportunities for cross-cultural work to flourish.

Stan will be in conversation with local theatre maker Jonathan Man.

Speaker Bios

Stan Lai 賴聲川 

Stan Lai is a playwright and theatre director. He is currently Creative Director of Performance Workshop, Taiwan; Artistic Director of Theatre Above, Shanghai; and Co-founder and Festival Director of the Wuzhen Theatre Festival (烏鎮戲劇節), China. 

Stan is also an award-winning filmmaker (The Peach Blossom Land 暗戀桃花源, 1992). He holds a Ph.D in Dramatic Art from Berkeley, and has taught extensively at the Taipei National University of the Arts, and at Berkeley and Stanford. His book Stan Lai on Creativity is a best seller in Taiwan and China.  Ten of his plays in English are to be published by Cambria Press in early 2019.

After completing his PhD in Berkeley and returning to Taiwan in 1984, he first joined the famous “Lanling Theatre Workshop” (蘭陵劇坊) and later founded “Performance Workshop” (表演工作坊) in 1985. Stan's 35 original plays to date have greatly influenced theatre in the Chinese-language world. His recent works in the West include Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (2015), Dream of the Red Chamber for the San Francisco Opera (2016), and the world premiere of his Nightwalk in the Chinese Garden at the Huntington Library and Gardens (2018) in Los Angeles.

Press: “The best Chinese language playwright and director in the world” (BBC); “Asia's top theatre director," (Asiaweek); “Asia's flagship playwright” (China Daily).  The Beijing News calls his The Village (2008) “the pinnacle of our era of theatre.” The New York Times, on Stan Lai's Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land (1986) “the most popular contemporary play in China.” China Daily on his epic 8 hour A Dream Like A Dream (2000) “possibly the greatest Chinese-language play.”

Jonathan Man
Jonathan Man

Jonathan is a London-based theatre director and independent producer. He was recently CEO for Chinese Arts Now, a festival platforming British Chinese culture in the UK, on the National Theatre’s “Step Change” programme for arts leaders and managers, and recently received an Arts Council England “Developing Your Creative Practice” award to research how to bridge Chinese, U.K. and U.S. theatre. 

Jonathan was previously co-artistic director at Yellow Earth, a national touring theatre company,  guest lecturer for Shanghai Theatre Academy, guest artist at Hong Kong Repertory Theatre, and artist-in-residence at the University of Michigan in the Department of Theatre & Drama.

Selected directing credits: ‘Monkey!’ (based on the Chinese novel Journey to the West); ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ (Southwark Playhouse), as winner of the Better Bankside Shakespeare Award; “wAve” (a modern Medea, Yellow Earth); double-bill 'Magical Chairs' by Mary Mazzilli and 'There’s Only One Wayne Lee' by Roy Williams (for Lumenis Theatre at Southwark Playhouse & the Beijing International Fringe Festival);  ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ for Shanghai Repertory Theater; and 'Turandot Reimagined',  a collaboration with the SOAS Chinese Music Ensemble reinterpreting Puccini's opera using authentic Chinese culture (Grimeborn Festival at the Arcola Theatre).    

All SOAS CTS Events are open to the public and are free to attend withour prior registration       

Organiser: Centre of Taiwan Studies

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