Adapted by Blind Summit
From the book Mr China's Son by He Liyi
"This is a very true story, a story that came from my true life and from my heart."
- He Liyi
Mr China's Son was based on the life story of He Liyi, a Chinese English teacher who lived through the Cultural Revolution in Kunming, and who now runs a cafe for backpackers in Dali. He wrote his extraordinary story in a book in English. It gives a unique insight into the experience of millions in the countryside in Mao's China.
He Liyi's dreams of becoming an English teacher and marrying his student girlfriend are dashed when politics tears his life apart. Condemned as a "rightist" and a "lover of America" because he has learned English, he is forced to abandon his studies and return to the life of a peasant farmer. Survival becomes his only priority. Starvation, political bullying, then imprisonment and hard labour in salt mines follow as thousands and millions of people starve in the Great Leap forward. He Liyi makes a practical marriage, hides his books and ekes out a living for a few years by a variety of desperate means whcih include collecting the village shit and selling it, illegally, for manure.
After the revolution He Liyi sets up the Cultural Exchange Cafe in Dali where Nick Barnes met him in 1995 and was inspired to tell his story with puppets. Blind Summit was formed to make the show.
A story of rice and revolution.
"All the best puppet shows tell stories in a way that couldn't be matched by live actors: not many, however, achieve the synthesis of narrative and form found in 'Mr China's Son'."
"After this show, bad acting should never be called wooden."
"I loved it." - What's On
Mr China's Son
ORIGINAL WORKSHOP 1997 - Blind Summit's inaugural project
Director/ Designer/ Puppet Maker - Nick Barnes
Costumes - Jackie Risman
Cast - Mark Down, Kwong Loke, Jackie Risman, Tumtim Hitaitip
Premiere: Pleasance, London 2002
Designer and Puppets by Nick Barnes
Written and Directed by Mark Down
Original Music by Andy White, Ernesto Tomasini
Costumes - Jackie Risman
Lighting by Neil Austin
Word of Mao: Li-Leng Au
Girlfriend: Cassandra Friend
Traveller: Colin Hoult
Puppeteer: Charlie Llewelyn-Smith
Voice of Peking: Ernesto Tomasini
Father: Tom Yang
Produced by Martin Sutherland (MSP)
BAC Workshop performance, March 2003
Directors - Mark Down and Nick Barnes
Lighting and Operating - Maple Potts
Sound - Andy White
Cast - Tom Yang, Miranda Cooke, Bob Pierce
Lots of thanks to Christina, Louise, Tom and everyone at BAC
Generous donations from individuals
Music funded by Katherine Henry