Part of the Institute for Chinese Studies "Understanding China -- Its Roots and New Frontiers" Lecture Series
The Wedded Husband (為之有室)
The Wedded Husband is an English-language play written by Hong Shen 洪深 (1894-1955) in the 1910s while he was a student at The Ohio State University. It premiered in April 1919 at OSU to an audience of 1300, and that may very well have been the last time that it was performed, before its revival this November, almost a century later! Directed by Professor Siyuan Liu (University of British Columbia), the play this fall is produced and performed by OSU students.
Play: The Wedded Husband (為之有室), by Hong Shen 洪深
Director: Siyuan Liu (Dept. of Theatre and Film, University of British Columbia)
Producer: Man He (Dept. of E. Asian Languages and Literatures, Ohio State University)
Cast: John Connor (Mr. Yang); John Quigley (Lord Wang), Mia Widjaja (Master Chen); Yixin Pang (Sir Chen), Rebecca Fujimura (Maid), Roxanne Knepp (Miss Wang); Spurthi Reddy (Doctor/Servant); Pengju Zheng (servant)
Music/Dance: OSU Traditional Chinese Music Club and Soul of Dance
Venue: Roy Bowen Theatre, Drake Performance and Event Center ("Drake Union"), OSU (1849 Cannon Drive, Columbus, Ohio 43210)
Dates & Times: November 16 @ 2:30 p.m. & 7:30 p.m. and November 17 @ 2:30 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: Free to OSU students with a valid student ID; $15 for all others (Department of Theatre Box Office at the Drake Performance and Event Center, OSU (1849 Cannon Drive, Columbus, Ohio 43210)
Though her heart lies with another man, Miss Wang agrees to an arranged marriage with the feeble-minded Master Chen out of filial devotion to her father. But the life she knows changes in an instant when she suddenly falls ill with the plague on the day of the wedding ceremony. Will she survive and realize her womanly virtue? Or will a wedding quickly become a funeral?
Overview and Inception of the Hong Shen Project
Hong Shen (Shen Hung) 洪深 (1894-1955)—one of the key figures in the worlds of modern Chinese theater, film, and drama—had some of the most formative experiences of his career at Ohio State University, where he studied Ceramic Engineering between 1916 and 1919. While at OSU as a Boxer Indemnity Scholarship recipient, Hong wrote and produced two English-language plays: The Wedded Husband and Rainbow. He would go on to study drama at Harvard and then, in 1923, return to China, where he would become an important agent in the development of modern Chinese spoken drama and film and a major theorist of drama performance.
Hong Shen wrote plays (most famous among which is Yama Zhao [赵阎王]), but he also wrote numerous screenplays and directed several films. Hong was also the author of several books on theater and film, including A Preliminary Knowledge of Theater Direction (劇導演的初步知識); Film and Performance Technique (電影戲劇表演術); Methods for Writing Film and Theater Scripts (電影戲劇的編劇方法); and Theatre and Poetry Recitation (戲的唸詞與詩的朗誦), making him one of the most important critical voices in film and drama production of the Republican era.
Hong Qian (洪钤), Hong Shen's elderly daughter, with help from Professor Julia Andrews (Department of History of Art), paid a visit to The Ohio State University in June 2012. It was part of Hong's overseas trip to collect materials on her father's years as a student in the United States (1916-1922). Very fortunately, OSU archives yielded much valuable information for her about his plays and extra-curricular activities that she can utilize to fill in that formative, American period of his life for a revised edition of her biography of her father. During her short visit, she gave an ICS lecture (in Chinese) on 13 June 2012, focusing on her father and his accomplishments: "The Life of Shen Hung (1894-1955): Pioneer Author, Actor, and Producer of Modern Drama." To honor his experience at OSU, she donated a collection of her father’s books and other artifacts to the OSU Libraries. In addition to early editions of most of Hong's works, the donation included letters, photographs, a sketch of Hong Shen by the renowned artist Xu Beihong, and an ink painting by the female playwright Zhao Qingge.
The Hong Shen project, with its three events in November 2013, was initially supported by an Arts and Sciences Research and Creative Activity grant ($20,000) awarded to Professors Kirk Denton and Patricia Sieber and doctoral candidate Man He for the proposal, “Global Citizenship: Ohio State University, Hong Shen, and the Modern Mediasphere.” The grant supports the staging of Hong Shen's play, The Wedded Husband, to be produced by Man He and directed by Professor Steven Si-yuan Liu (University of British Columbia). The grant also supports a symposium on the mediasphere in Republican China and the development of a Hong Shen special collection at the OSU Libraries from the donations by Hong Shen’s daughter, Hong Qian.
1919 & 2013 Performances of The Wedded Husband (為之有室)
To commemorate both Hong Shen’s experience at OSU and his daughter's donation to OSU Libraries, doctoral candidate Man He of the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures is producing one of the plays—The Wedded Husband—that Hong wrote while at OSU nearly one hundred years ago. Set in Tianjin "just after the Revolution, when nobles were still addressed by their titles and the people in general hesitated to break the old Chinese traditions," The Wedded Husband is likely the first English-language play written by a Chinese. The play was performed with gender appropriate actors and a racially mixed cast to an audience of 1300 in April 1919 in University Hall Chapel at The Ohio State University. To our knowledge, it has not been staged since its premier in 1919.
- Press releases include:
People's Daily (人民网): 百年后的重现：美国大学校园上演洪深剧作 (10.28.2013)
The Lantern: Ohio State to restage 1919 play ‘The Wedded Husband’ (11.14.2013)
College of Arts and Sciences, The Ohio State University
Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures
Institute for Chinese Studies
East Asian Studies Center
Department of Theatre
Graduate Association of Chinese Linguistics
Graduate Students of East Asian Languages and Literatures