Che Guevara [1]

By Huang Jisu, Zhang Guangtian, and Shen Lin[2]
Tr. by Jonathan Noble

Published by MCLC Resource Center (Copyright July 2006)


Fig.1: program from the 2000, Beijing performance.

Fig.1: program from the 2000, Beijing performance.

Please believe in this person, forever impassioned by the kindness of the poor;
Please believe in this person, inspired to ceaseless travails by the blessings of the poor;
Please believe in this person, who bid farewell to the past and gave his life to the future of the poor.

[Regarding the relationship between the play’s characters and roles]

The characters within the play are largely symbols noble and do not have a fixed relationship to specific roles. A particular role, for example, can be assumed by I just as well as by III, et al. This is especially true for a number of the longer recited passages, including “Set Sail” and “You may Exit the Theatre,” because in such sections the actors function solely as loudspeakers. This drama is motivated by concepts, and the characters and the roles they perform should not be understood in terms of a naturalistic view of theatre.

However, when it’s possible to capture on stage a type of social category or trait, the characters and roles are still linked together in an appropriate way. Most of the people on stage are divided into two types—the Pros and the Cons. The Pros act as Pros throughout the entire play, and likewise, the Cons always play the part of Cons. Each type, the same in essence, has different manifestations, similar to the way the reflections of the moon differ in different bodies of water.

Guevara is represented on stage only by an offstage voice.


Theme Song: “CheGuevara”

Who lit the dawn’s reddish glow on the horizon?
A millennium of dark nights shall today be no more.
Perhaps the light will arrive early;
We can hear you calling out to us—Che Guevara.

Who pointed out to me the sky’s shining star?
Heart and soul conquered the excess of vanity.
When at the crossroads searching for our home,
We spot the outline of your figure—Che Guevara.

Who led me to set forth once again?
Belief in justice shall once again be emboldened.
The road ahead needs new footsteps,[3]
Rank and file we follow you—Che Guevara.

Who stands up never to be overthrown?
Blossoms fill the land behind you.
Devotion to revolution turns to steel,
We are as determined as you—Che Guevara.


Red flags wave forth from my firm devotion;
Receiving your gun, I rush toward the battlefield.
Singing my song summons strength;
By walking along your path, we find a new direction.

Act One: Granma Sets Sail

This act primarily addresses the following questions:Given the past forty years, what is the road humanity should now take? Shouldthe Granma have even bothered setting forth on its journey?

Accompanied by the sound of perilous waves, a silhouette of a boat bobs up and down against the backdrop. noble, a soldier marches in darkness. The sprinkling of stars, the singing of a heavy-hearted song, and the shimmering footprints in the darkness of night symbolize the remote, strenuous, and harsh path for the cause of justice.

[The actors take turns reciting the parts below]

Fig.2: The Revolutionary "Pros" 2005 Beijing performance's all female cast.

Fig.2: The Revolutionary “Pros” 2005 Beijing performance’s all female cast.

One evening, forty years ago, amidst pouring rain and crashing waves, the small yacht Granmawas anchored at a small fishing pier in Mexico.

Granma was a small boat. Under normal conditions, the boat could hold only a dozen or so beach bums on vacation. But on this day, more than eighty young soldiers were packed on board.

Their leader’s name was Castro. He had just led an uprising in Cuba against its corrupt government. After the uprising’s failure, Castrowent into exile in Mexico.

A young Argentinean doctor named Guevara was also among the soldiers on board. He had just participated in a battle to defend the progressive government of Guatemala, which was ultimately defeated by the artillery of American jets.[4] When he heard that Castro was preparing for a second uprising, Guevara said to his wife, whom he had just married: “Since these people have the courage to rush into a blazing fire, Is hall go with them!” (music plays)

This play, from beginning to end, lacks any sense of suspense. After embarking in the dead of night, Granma sailed into storms and drifted at sea for seven days and seven nights. Guevara suffered from asthma attacks, and the other soldiers vomited from seasickness. Still, they sang the “July 26 Elegy”[5]and recited the poetry of José Martí: “Light from a lamp is no longer enough; the stove’s flame must be ignited!”

When Granma eventually reached land, the Cuban government’s military had already prepared an ambush.The attack scattered Guevara and the soldiers into the Sierra Maestra Mountains,where they then managed to finally establish a foothold. The fighting gradually turned in their favor, and in just a few years, red flags covered the entire island.

Forty years have gone by . . . during these past forty years,how many dreams have come and gone? How many mountains and rivers haveturned a different color? How many people have new hearts and new minds?(the following is spoken to the audience)In those days you always loved to sing “We’ll sing our own song.” In those days you always loved to sing “Bravely march ahead without fear.”[6]Nowadays you just love to praise your daughter for earning US dollars and for marrying a Japanese businessman. Nowadays you just love to shout out how fucking awesome their fighter’s guided missiles are!

Granma should never have even bothered setting off in the first place. That’s what all the “pundits”are saying these days. Any idea to the contrary would be just making a fuss over nothing. That’s what the “visionaries” are thinking these days.

Should or shouldn’t the Granma have pushed off on its journey that year? Do we still even care about Guevara’s courage? This evening, amid the intoxicating breeze and soothing moonlight, let us once again reflect upon such a question. (all exit)

TheCons enter the stage. They represent disillusionment, regret, and condemnation of the revolution. Sounds, poses, and musical accompaniment, for example,should be adopted to help achieve this signification and characterization. An overall atmosphere of oppressive sadness should also be maintained.

Con I (The Five Greats[7]):

Forty years, four hundred years,
Gone by are four thousand years.
Some people are higher, yet some are lower.
There’s just no way to change gears.

All Cons[8]:

This is humanity, this is the world, don’t expect a new day.
This is the law, this is the rule, the order we must all obey.

Con II:

How stupid! How stupid!
The utopian nonsense those asses spout,
Is just a bubble of idealistic crap.

Con III:

A bummer! A bummer! Only now waking up from the revolutionary dream,
You’ve already missed the first bus to prosperity.

All Cons:

This is humanity, this is the world, don’t expect a new day.
This is the law, this is the rule, the order we must all obey.

Con IV:

Why bother? Why bother?
Who banks checks from the new world?
Who guarantees the new world’s solvency?
Can’t you see that the new world has crashed![9]

Con II:

Move on! Move on!
Hurry and dig up a return boat ticket.
Hurry and sell off stocks in the bullish market.
Hurry and apply for a visa to the old world!

All Cons:

This is humanity, this is the world, don’t expect a new day.
This is the law, this is the rule, the order we must all obey.

Con III:

Don’t daydream or space out again.Life is a big match,
Either advance to the next round or be eliminated.
You have to be damn wicked, wicked to a tee!

All Cons:

If you don’t look out for yourself, you will be crushed!
Don’t waste your breath!

All Cons:

This is humanity, this is the world, don’t expect a new day.
This is the law, this is the rule, the order we must all obey.

Five Greats:

Workers must practice kneeling like before;
The penniless shell out to get back on track.
WE the rich buy out the voices of YOU the poor!
I’m going to exploit you! (to Con II) ——

Con II: (pausing for a while) I simply can’t wait for the day! (Con III joins him)

Five Greats: (to Con III) Do I oppress you?

Con III: (with teeth clenched) The sooner the better! The sooner I can start flying high!

Five Greats: (to Con IV) You want another guided missile? (Con IV—nodding her head like a lovesick girl—tightly grasps the hand of the Five Greats)

The shrill pitch of an anti-aircraft alarm is heard. The lights dim. All exit the stage. The post-bombing ruins of Iraq and Yugoslavia are projected onto the curtain.[10]Residents of Belgrade—with targets on their chests—appear at a concert in a plaza and on top of a bridge holding each other’s hands. (It may also be appropriate to project an image of Chinese students protesting in front of the US embassy). The curtain gradually turns to a burning blood-colored red. A number of small, white concentric circles—bull’s-eyes—are projected on the curtain as the audience hears the sound of airplanes whizzing by. The voice ofa pilot comes from offstage: “I’ve locked in on the target. Prepare to launch the missile.” A loud boom is heard and all of the lights in the theatre turn a snowy white. Heaps of US dollars (in large denominations) flitter down from the theatre’s roof onto the stage and the audience. Accompanied by baroque music,images of the following scenes are seen on the screen: International Monetary Fund representatives wining and dining with government leaders of member nations at a lively banquet, a long line in front of the US embassy’s visa office, tourists from third world countries making a pilgrimage to Disney World, Westernized youth with blonde-dyed hair strutting about town, and glamour boys and girls in the television program “Let’s Be Happy Together.[11]

All Cons:

(the night watchman’s clapper is heard several times)
Oh—how—this—terrible—life—never ends!

Con II:

Such a dark night! Such a strong wind! Such high waves!
Such a small boat! So few people! Such worthless guns! (Accompanied by the rhythm of “This is humanity, this is the world”)
An image of the cruiser Aurora firing upon the Winter Palace is projected on the screen.

Con III:

So you launched an attack on that beach;
So you made it to those mountains;
So you took control of that island—
Still you will never reach the other shore.[12] (Accompanied by the rhythm of “This is humanity, this is the world”)
Images of Lenin giving a speech, a mass street protest, and a sea of red flags are projected onto the screen.

Con IV:

The outer skin may change, but what of the flesh inside?
The brew may change, but what about the medicine?
If dogs can’t learn new tricks—then why would people?
Even if you blow up billions of red balloons,
You can never blow red into these filthy people, filthy hearts, filthy land, and filthy heavens! (Accompanied by the rhythm of “This is humanity, this is the world”)
An image of the collapse of the Berlin Wall is projected onto the screen.

Con II:

Don’t provoke humanity; don’t provoke selfishness;
Don’t provoke history; don’t provoke the inevitable;
Don’t provoke the status quo—every bit and piece of the total sum.
Don’t provoke the way things will have to be for ages to come.
Images of the Aurora being auctioned off as a cruise ship, beggars on the street, and hookers soliciting customers are projected.

Con III:

Might as well save your dreams for your pillows;
Might as well keep your feet planted on the ground;
Might as well follow tradition and be safe and sound;
Might as well send Granma back to floating as a yacht all around.

All Cons:Hey!—the shore—is—behind us![13] (A gong forlornly resounds once.The Five Greats lead the Cons to exit the stage. The lights are dimmed. A followspot illuminates the Pros entering the stage.)

All Pros: (in the direction of the audience)Guevara, just now, after mentioning the lessons learned during the past forty years and the experiences of the past four hundred years, four thousand years, they advised us not to dream of a new day and not to strive after the impossible. Don’t go to Cuba and Congo again. Don’t go to Boliviaagain. That’s right. Right here is the Boulevard of Peace[14] that leads to all places.It has both solid and broken lines; red and green traffic lights. Motor vehicles drive fast, while the motor-less move at a crawl. But over there. . .

Con II: I know you are not afraid of a world filled with pain and suffering or to put your life on the line!

Con III: It has been only forty years—but how many boats now head for New York?Count them! How many roads now lead to Paris? Just add them up!

Con IV: Tell me the truth, don’t you feel discouraged?

Con I: Given a choice today, would the Granma still have set sail?!

Theactors exit. A follow spot shines on the soldiers who are spread out at the back of the stage. Guevara’s voice resounds from offstage behind the audience.

Offstage Voice: Indeed, this is a long voyage and the horizon is still not in view. It is a clash between two unequal powers—a fight against the almighty.

Pro I: Just like the foolish old man who was determined to move mountains.[15]

Pro II: Just like the bird that was set on filling up an ocean one stone at a time.[16]

Pro III: Just like a lone island up against the vast sea.

Pro I: Just like a newborn up against four thousand years of history.

Pro II: Just like devotion up against History.

Pro III: Just like hope up against Reality.

Pro I: Just like seeds adrift in the wind up against the dunes of a great desert.

All Pros: Perhaps, even in a thousand years, it can’t escape from the dark eve!

Offstage Voice: There’s a chance just as long as it heads for the East!

All Soldiers: It perhaps may not find the other shore in ten thousand years—

Offstage Voice: There is only hope if we keep looking! (music begins)

The drumbeat of “This is humanity, this is the world” is heard from the distance.

Offstage Voice: Don’t ask if we should light a fire, but rather, first ask whether or not the cold darkness still exists. Don’t ask if we should load a bullet, but rather, first ask whether or not oppression and exploitation still exist. Don’task if there is a future for the cause of justice, but rather, first ask whether or not inequality still exists in this world. (spoken with resolve)

The drumbeat of “This is humanity, this is the world” is heard from the distance.

Offstage Voice: In the face of a violent storm,

Pro I: Birds can fly away.

Offstage Voice: In the face of flooding waters,

ProII: Beasts can run away.

Offstage Voice:  In the face of great evil,

All soldiers: People—have nowhere to hide!

The revolutionary elegy “July 26th” resounds. All soldiers shoulder their rifles.

Offstage Voice: Wherever there are bullies and tyrants,

Pro I: Our blood shall boil for the cause of justice.

Offstage Voice: Wherever there are those who bring ruin upon one’s country and people,

Pro II: We shall bristle with anger for the cause of justice.

Offstage Voice: Wherever wine and meat are left to spoil behind vermilion gates,

Pro III: We shall unsheathe our weapons for the cause of justice.

Offstage Voice: Wherever people freeze to death on the roadside,

All Pros: Shall the Granma set sail thither!

Silhouettes of the guerillas setting off are projected. We hear sounds of the boat’s foghorn, paddle-wheel turning, the murmuring of mothers and crying of babies, the westerly wind and winter thunder, the honking of wild swans in flight, banging and crashing, and the singing of the revolutionary elegy “July 26th”.

Offstage Voice: Set sail!

All Pros: Set sail! Set sail!

Pro I: Head toward the peasant rebellion led by Chensheng and Wuguang in Daze Village![17]

Pro II: Head toward Spartacus at the Coliseum!

Pro III: Head toward the Three Stone Bridge of today and yesteryear.[18]

Head toward the cruel rent collectors.[19] (the lines below are spoken inturn and then the other actors join in one at a time)
Head toward the place where Negro slaves were kidnapped and detained.
Head toward the place where indigenous peoples were banished and murdered.
Head toward the place where weak nations fought against the British and Japanese.
Head toward the place where poor villagers fought against taxes and levies.
Head toward the place where the Jews were forced into a blind alley.
Head toward the place where the Palestinians are homeless.
Head toward the place where the Paris Commune fighters were finally defeated.
Head toward the place where President Allende[20] is forever memorialized.
Head toward the place where in the former Yugoslavia mothers silently shed their tears.
Head toward the place where Tomahawk cruise missiles filled the air.
Head toward the place where despots and tyrants have sex day and night.
Head toward the place where ordinary people are mercilessly trampled upon.
Head toward the place where rich ladies throw money around like dirt.
Head toward the place where the wretched suffer through days as if they were years.
Head toward the place where a single official seal makes one rich.
Head toward the place where a lifetime of grueling toil amounts to nothing.
Head toward the place where a moral conscience is smothered and extinguished.
Head toward the place where darkness and evil are staging a comeback.

Offstage voice: Head toward the place that needs fire, needs light, and needs my voice!

All Pros: Head toward the place that needs daggers, needs swords, and needs my fighting blows!

ACT 2: The Long Road of Life

This act recounts the reasons why Che Guevara became a revolutionary. It combines narration with discussion to provide an account of his distant journeys as a student, his contact with people suffering from hardship and poverty, and his sincere feelings and convictions that convinced him to “stand by the side of the people.” Returning from the past to reality prompts a public debate regarding the wealth gap. The stage, placed at a 45-degree angle to the audience, forms a street that divides the world into two sides—north and south.

Song: “The Long Road of Life”

There is a street,
Called the Long Road of Life.
It is four thousand years long,
And is exactly as wide as the world.

On the north side of the street,
Live a few rich people.
On the south side of the street,
Live countless poor.

The poor and the rich;
The south and the north.
Oppression and exploitation;
Struggle and resistance.

Just like this, time and time again.
Just like this, we have lived for thousands of years.

Che Guevara was born in Argentina in 1928. He was a descendant of immigrants from Europe. His aristocratic family was heir to a viceroy who had owned a ranch andtea plantation.[21]

Awoman’s voice saying “Sorry, bye[22]” comes from offstage by the northernside of the street and is followed by the sound of a door closing. “A child of the East,” with a blonde-dyed wisp of hair—played by Con II—frantically walks over holding a mirror in her hand. She can’t help becoming enraged by what thespeaker is saying, and she comes on stage in a tizzy.

Con II: What kind of hereditarianism are you preaching? Don’t try to impress me with talk of your family being the “last imperial princes” and TheLast Daughters of Privilege“![23] After all, I’m a Francophile! As for moi,I should have been born (pointing at the Northside) in Champs-Elysees. In a waning aristocratic or nouveau bourgeoisie family—whatever! In any case, everyone in the family would have golden-blonde hair and aqua-blue eyes. The family has two Chinese, both of whom are servants! (pounding on her chest and stomping) But why on earth did I have to be born as a pure east Asian mongoloid in Beijing’s Drum Tower Alley[24] so close to Zhoukoudian![25] During the Tang Dynasty, it was possible to interbreed with the non-Han. But, since China at the time was so prosperous, it was just as easy not to. The Eight Power Allied Forces was an opportunity that couldn’t be missed![26] Other than the Japanese, the rest of the gang were from the West. That, though, was a real “clash of civilizations”— just the right moment for a “libratory struggle” to support the cause of eugenics![27] Haven’t you heard about those children in south Vietnam who were left behind by American soldiers, and after a blood-test were then reunited to end up earning American dollars! Why didn’t one of my great-grandmothers hiding out down a well think of this? Now it drives me crazy to look in the mirror! No matter whether you hum the “Marseilles,” sing the “Star Spangled Banner,” or say from memory the Declaration of Independence backwards as fluently as you recite the line ” so bright is the moonlight at the foot of my bed,”[28](pointing at the mirror), your face is still the same! Even if you live in a narrow Beijing alley but your heart is in Buckingham—and you are impressed by the sight of the Eight Allied Forces and think F-4 Phantoms are so cool looking—your face is still the same! No matter how you try NOT tobe yourself while you are still clearly yourself, and no matter how you become more like them THAN EVEN they are, though you are definitely NOT them, (looking perplexed in the mirror)that face is still the same! No matter how much you curse China, blaspheme China, offend China, dupe China, disgrace China, shame China, kick China,bite China, shred China, fuck over China (smashing the mirror),you—still—have—that—same—fucking—face! (exits whaling)And THEY still dare suspect you of intending to immigrate . . .

Pro A: Guevara was born on this side of the street, yet he adopted a new type of family and chose different types of relatives. Anyone in the world who suffered and was exploited—regardless of whether in Argentina, Cuba, Venezuela, India,China, or the Republic of Equatorial Guinea—was part of his family. A European with the last name of Guevara once asked him: “Are we related?” Guevara responded: “Probably not.” But if you shake from anger whenever you hear of an injustice in the world, then I think we must be. (music plays) What made him like this? Where did he get such strong beliefs?

While still a student, Guevara twice crossed the South American continent as a “penniless traveler” and witnessed the suffering of a different world. (stage darkens and music begins)

Pro B: Once during your travels you spent the night with a poor person in a cement pipe. The poor person mocked you for not going back home, while bemoaning about not having any home to go back to himself. You gazed at a new kind of moonlight in the cold wind. You contemplated a new type of world under that cold moon.

Pro C: You had once visited a copper mine in Chile and stayed in a Party member’s mine worker’s shanty. You heard from him about how much copper flowed to the wallets of American capitalists and how many workers were buried in the barren hillsides. The night was too dark, and he built a fire for you. The weather was too cold, and you draped your clothing over his shoulders. You were so frozen that you couldn’t stop shivering. But you felt the fire of the underclass world burning in your chest, and the blood of the underclass flowing through your body.

Pro A: You once stood on the roadside in Bolivia and saw how the minister greeted the peasant’s representative. The world’s filthiest parasites were dressed to the nines, yet the most innocent laborers in the world were disinfected and sprayed with pesticides. Then you think . . . this society has turned everything upside down. Then you realize . . . the only thing that can change everything is gunfire.

Pro B: You arrived at the leper village in Peru to treat the sick. Among those lonely and desperate souls, you saw friendship, camaraderie, and compassion, so rarely seen among piles of money.

Pro C: When you left, the rain had poured for many days, and the wooden raft built by the lepers carried you away. The hands waving to you from the bank were not just bidding you farewell but also beckoning to you. Midstream your solitary image reflected both an old and new person.

Pro A: You said that since the world is divided into two parts, you’d choose to share the same fate as the people. You said that since the struggle would require a fight, from here on out you would become fighter.

Offstage voice:

Farewell,days of leisure.
Farewell,days of wealth.
Farewell,days of refinement.
Farewell,days of self-indulgence.

All Pros:

Farewell,mom and dad.
Farewell,my high school sweetheart.
Farewell,my homeland Argentina.
Farewell,my pitiable Latin America.
Farewell,last four thousand years.
Farewell,old world.

Singing:”Actually In This World We Are All One”

Actually in this life,
We are all just one person.
Actually in this world,
We are all just of one heart.

If there is just one person in poverty,
Then this life is hell.
If there is just one evil person,
Then this world can’t be heaven.

Singing:”You’ve Walked Life’s Long Road”

You walked life’s long road,
Life inspired you.
You walked life’s long road,
Life permeated you.
You walked life’s long road,
Life shaped you.
You walked life’s long road,
Life possessed you . . . (light dims)

Lights come on. The sound of a clapper is heard from the street. The Five Greats (Con I) and all of the Cons—who are now playing the role of boot licking academics—enter along the north in a tizzy. The drama returns to today’s debate on the inequality between the rich and poor.

All Cons: All’s at peace!

Con I: Peace? Why does my left eyelid always twitch?

Con II: It means you’ll be rich![29] Take a look! All our stocks on the Dow Jones are bullish—like the new colonialism stock, the old hegemony stock,new libertarian stock, old guard conservatism stock, “all belongs to me in peaceful years” stock, “offer you some during turbulent times” stock, “rich whites and rich blacks join hands” stock, “poor house cats and poor street cats are different” stock, in addition to the “long ago became worthless” stock and the “just bought fluctuating up and down” stock. All of them are really hot,which completely proves my theory that “history ends here.”

Con I: Then why is my right arm numb?

Con III: Is it a tingling sensation like ants crawling? Your qi must be flowing![30]

All Cons: Capitalism has entered the transcendent realm! (A few modern-day youth appear on the South side. They are wearing simple clothing and look like work-study students and dreamy poets.)

Con I: You should know better to keep up your guard during times of peace! (instructing everyone) These silly fools are only good enough to be sent to teach in a socialist country. (Notices that the youth are using a measuring tape to measure the distance between the northside and southside. The youth proceed to first measure the closer distance, then go onto measure the more distant area.) What happened! What are they doing?

Con II: Youngsters, it looks like you are interns who have graduated from the Civil Engineering Academy with a major in road construction, right?

Youth A: You could say that. We are thinking about how the world should be built and how this road should go. (The Five Greats are shocked)

Con III: What are you measuring?

Youth B: The wealth gap.

Con I: What’s wrong with the gap?

Youth A: The gap keeps getting larger and more and more outrageous.

Con I: (asking another youth) What book are you looking at?

Youth B: The Biography of Guevara.

Con A: That’s great. People who love to read and think are few and far between. They are the future pillars of society.

Youth C: You don’t mean the pillars of this society? (The Five Greats summon the bootlicking academics over to their side)

Con I: It’s too dangerous! A group of potential Guevaras!

Con II: This is a “case for the emergency funding of thousands of bombs to eliminate’eyesores,’ ‘body aches,’ and ‘spoiled food.'” Approve it! After all, this time we don’t need to sugarcoat it![31]

Con I: Better to work on the mind first! Here is a project fund for “exploitation and oppression are good.” I’ll see who can wash their brains to the color of the star spangled banner. (Tossing out a handful of paper money. Accompanied by elegant chamber music, the academics scramble about the floor after the bills. They exit following the Five Greats.)

All of the academics finish the project, and they process from the grand door in turn to present their “research results.” “There is a chance sooner or later”and “everyone has a share,” etc. are written in big letters on white paper. “Person ≠ person,” the first to come on stage, enters into a debate—resembling a prologue—with Youth A. In reading the lines below it is important to pay attention to the relationship of the lines on both the vertical and horizontal axes.

person person:

Youth A:

You’re not me—

Yet all are homo sapiens just the same.

And I’m not him—

Yet all are omnivorous pack animals just the same.

Black is just not as good as yellow—

Yet all are quadrupeds and have five senses just the same.

A pity that yellow is not as good as white—

Yet all have seven feelings and six desires just the same.[32]

Thin arms can’t wrestle thick arms;

Yet all take care of the young and elderly just the same.

The dull-witted just have to follow the clever-minded.

Yet all are men or women who will get married just the same.

Do your parents own what my parents own?

Yet all will live and die just the same.

You fuckin’ want to have what I already fuckin’ have!

Yet all come and go just the same!

Youth A grabs the hand of person ≠ person. The following exchange, which talks about body parts—hands, feet, eyes, mouths, and ears—also takes the form of a dialogue.

Youth A: (angrily) All are hands just the same! Some hands spend millions and make billions. Money rains down at a twist of the wrist!

personperson: (mockingly) That’s right. Hands are just hands! Some start out groping for quarters but end up with only pennies.What’s that called? Lousy hands!

YouthB: (melancholically) All are feet just the same! Some prefer to let one’s feet blister to prevent one’s shoes from scuffing. The road of life is merciless!

person person: (proudly) Exactly, all are feet! I just want Australian leather and Italian shoemakers. Different feethave different fates!

Youth C: All are eyes just the same! You till the yellow earth your entire life. You mine sooty coal your entire life. You can stand your backbreaking life, but you can’t bear to let your children suffer too. The earlier you can shut your eyes and rest in peace the better. (helplessly)

person person: Of course all are eyes! A moon above the pyramids exudes a feeling of elegance. Nothing’s more idyllic than a glistening snow-covered Mount Fuji. You’ve seen the Alps in the autumn but not yet in the spring. What if some day you suddenly keel over or become blind? (worriedly)

Youth A: All are mouths just the same! For some, breakfast and dinner are tubers. The steamed dishes are tubers; the boiled dishes are also tubers. Year after year and decade after decade of tubers. That is the only way to deal with the hungry mouths.

person person: Of course all are mouths! Today we can have Tan Family cuisine, and next time we’ll have Mao Family cuisine.[33] Prefer Shanghai or Japanese cuisine? Just have Russian cuisine when you want a richer flavor and Indian cuisine when you want more spice. Food is a culinary art!

Youth B: All are ears just the same! Here the police are cursing, the neighbors are arguing, the wives are complaining, the children are wailing, the sick are moaning, and the penniless are begging. How come it’s hell here while it’s heaven over there! (upset)

person person: All are ears just the same! There’s the Sichuan Opera Turandot, the opera Turandot, the Imperial Ancestral Temple’s Turandot, the Venetian Turandot, the light opera Turandot, and the musical Turandot. These Turandots are each unique in a different way![34] (Satisfied.A battle of words follows)

Difference= Nature = Should: Here on top is the head, the feet down below. Do the head and feet belong to the same class? Can a popsicle vendor make the same amount of money as a computer whiz?

Youth II: Of course the head is not the feet and the feet are not the head. But without the feet, the head can hardly move and is no better than a flat ball.Your brains have arteries and veins. And our feet have blood and flesh as well.Your face needs powder, and our shoes need polish. Why should the wealth of three thousand of the well-heeled equal the total household income of three billion poor soles? Don’t tell me such a gap is natural when in reality it is a man-made chasm!

Everyone has a share: Hey, hey, hey, no one said to only let the Smiths get rich and not the Jones. How many CEOs and tycoons started out as penniless paupers? (takes out a deck of cards and shuffles them) Everyone has an equal opportunity, (dealing out cards to each person) just like everyone has an equal chance to buy lottery tickets. Didn’t that kiddo Bill Gates pick the card to be the world’s wealthiest person? (turning over one of the cards) Whoah, a black joker!

Youth C: (tearing up the card) In the end only a few people end up making money while millions of people lose money. Why should we turn life into a casino where everyone is a gambler?

There is a chance sooner or later: Don’t be so anxious. The sooner we, at the head, move into a garden villa, the sooner you, at the rear, can enjoy coal-burning stoves. Isn’t that better than building a fire with wood? Leftovers are quite nutritious. Just heat up Laozi and Zhuangzi for a meal! Real healthy!

(The Pros enthusiastically clap and drag “there is a chance sooner or later” to their side and ask him to repeat himself)

There is a chance sooner or later: “We, at the head—

All Youth: “They, at the head!”

There is a chance sooner or later: “You, at the rear—”

All Youth: “We, at the rear!”

There is a chance sooner or later: “Leftovers—” (Sooner or Later has a worried and sad expression) “will just have to do.”

Rich and Poor Dialectics: The rich and poor should be looked at dialectically: The rich have certain problems of the rich, while the poor have certain benefits of the poor. The rich have many headaches, while the poor have fewer irritations. The jewel shopkeeper is always on edge, while rarely do you hear of a theft at a junkyard. Superstars stand on a lonely pedestal afraid of tumbling down and breaking into a million pieces. How can they feel as secure as ordinary people who upon falling only get a scratch? The king and the minister are sent to the guillotine when ousted from power. When coal is replaced by gas, those who had rolled charcoal can still roll sticky-rice balls.

Thereis a chance sooner or later: Shut up! Dialectics require that you view things dialectically! You—us, eat garlic and kiss—(all Cons: “Sweet!”) But not cool.Eight of us in one room—(all Cons: “Cozy!”) But crowded. We—they, eat the eight delicacies[35] and a Manchu-Han banquet[36]until their stomachs burst—(all Pros: “Looking to die!”) But it’s bursting with flavor. They have their stomachs pumped until their kidneys are pumped out too—(all Pros: “Lost out!”) It’s worth it! Why do they risk everything in the name of pleasure? Why are they attracted to sin like a moth darting into a flame? There must be something awesome about it! Excuse me, I have to return to my team. (running off)

The beginning of man: Equality is certainly not the original nature of humankind.Inequality is the fundamental quality of society. It seems as if the iron rice bowl[37] contained sleeping pills. Anyone who ate from it only wanted to sleep and not work. Then you eat a meal specially catered for you, and you feel like you took Chinese turtle essence and heroine.You wish your nose and ears could turn into feet so that you could dash toward golden cups and silver bowls as if there were no tomorrow!

Youth A: Equality is certainly not the nature of this type of person. Inequality is precisely the characteristic of this type of society. This type of person is shaped by society. This type of society is what you need. Fortunately it has only been four thousand years, and humanity still has a chance to grow melons, apples,pears, and peaches instead of marijuana and opium. It is yet too early to talk about the laws of nature and humanity. How many thousand-year-old stone memorials are still standing? Not a single one of the emperors ordained to rule forever is still alive. The sky and earth are vast. Let’s keep on going!

Fig.3: The Cons (left) listen impatiently to the revolutionary youth.

Fig.3: The Cons (left) listen impatiently to the revolutionary youth.

Poor and Rich aesthetics: You stand up for the poor but find the wealthy disagreeable? Then let me ask you, who picks locks to rob homes, the poor or the rich? Who lifts cucumbers from the market?Who darts through red lights on bicycles and J-walks? Who with their naked torsos and latrine-sputtering swearing is a blemish to society? Who pees outside on the ground whenever they feel like it? Who, after all, wants knowledge but has no knowledge, wants culture but has no culture, wants ideals but has no ideals, wants refinement but lacks refinement, wants taste but lacks taste, wants opportunities but fails at everything? Who is shortsighted like rats and just as tight as chicken’s innards with money? Who is useless but gets angry, eyes turning red from jealousy, and picks fights with friends who are getting ahead in this world? Let me ask one more time: Who is more civilized and polite, the rich or the poor? Who has greater respect for rules and is more law-abiding? Whose heart is more generous and vision more forward-looking?Whose temperament is kinder and disposition more refined? Who better understands Kant, Wittgenstein, and Derrida? Who is better able to appreciate Monet,Debussy, and Shakespeare? Who more enthusiastically participates in charitable events and donates funds to build hospitals, libraries, schools, and laboratories?

Youth A: You have squeezed the poor dry. What do they have left to let them be philanthropists? The poor want to understand and analyze philosophy, but they can’t afford to pay tuition. They also want to enjoy Italian opera, but they can’t afford to buy the tickets. They also know that wearing tuxedos and evening gowns looks good and that arguing with neighbors over the outhouse is silly. They also know that it’s better to be altruistic and donate money while it’s bad to steal and pickpocket. The poor are unsightly in thousands of different ways, but in the end it’s all just because they don’t have any money.It’s all due to your endless craving for more money! It’s all because of the exploitative and oppressive way of the world!

History only acknowledges the real heroes: If Meng Jiangnu’s husband had never been exploited, how could you stroll about the Great Wall on your honeymoon today?[38]If Egyptian pharaohs hadn’t oppressed its people, how could one go sightseeing today at the pyramids? History only acknowledges the real heroes! Just let Lei Feng’s mother cry.[39] Just let Yang Bailao lament.[40]The sun has risen, the wind has stopped, and the tears and grieving have been wiped away by time. Don’t be so sentimental!

Youth B: This theory is as poisonous as centipedes and scorpions! You say it with such literary grace! Let me tell you, Lei Feng’s mother cried and it wasn’t for naught. Yang Bailao cried out, and it wasn’t for naught. Do you still remember the fate of Huang Shiren?[41] Haven’t you heard how Louis XVII was dethroned?Just wait until the laments turn to condemnation and tears turn to flames. Don’t think they’ll be soft on you!

The Ideology of “Since”: Since the whip can’t be avoided, you should think about not being the one who is whipped but the one who uses the whip.Since the saddle cannot be avoided, you should think about how to ride on top of the saddle rather than being ridden on. Since there is sucha huge difference between the northside and the southside, you had best think about how to cut ties with the southside and hurry and emigrate to the northside. I’ve already made a path for you . . .

All Youth: Then what are we waiting for? Let’s go!

Five greats: You’re all techies! Welcome!

All Youth: There are 4 billion of us. Can you take us all?

The Five Greats: Make a checkpoint. The dirty clothes and old pants can come through, but don’t let any riffraff or other slackers by.[42]

Con B: (hanging on the wall of the wealthy on the northside) If I can’t be rich, then I’ll become their mistress.If I can’t run a bank, then I’ll rob a bank. If I’m not born rich, then I’ll move into a wealthy area. If you don’t let me move in, then I’ll sneak in! If I can’t get in above ground, than I’ll make a tunnel! I’ll speak of equality only when I’ve got nothing left! If one’s got what it takes, then who the fuck would settle for being left behind as just some Joe Schmo! (knocked down by Con III but still looking for an opening in the wall through which to crawl through)

The Five Greats: (ordering those around)This kiddo’s not of great value, but he’s a great representative. Let him in!

Progress:Wring him! Hold him! How can a proletariat represent advanced productivity! They are the only ones who are backwards! They are all rubbish! If they keep their jobs, then technology would never progress and business revenues would never increase. Don’t bother sympathizing with them! Who is the most advanced? Those capitalists—”knowledge capitalists”—in this era of the knowledge-based economy—that are headed by him! (pointing to The Five Greats)

Youth C: Since you play the stock market, of course you should buy those stocks that bring you wealth and power. Since you have to bum rides, might as well pick Lincolns, Benzs, and Cadillacs. The proletariat may not represent so-called advanced productivity. But I just want to ask: have they received a fair return for what they put in? I just want to say: even if you do business, you should still keep ethics in mind!

The Five Greats: Hey, there’s the smell of rebels and hooligans in the air. Are you planning on taking a share of our stuff! Get the guns! (the sound of gunshots ring out and the stage darkens)

Act 3: Building the New Society

The set, a “construction site,” is highly symbolic—not just symbolizing the construction of a building but also of society itself. The front and middle parts of the stage form two distinct spaces: the front part is the narrative space of the fifties and sixties and the middle part is a space of reflection in the eighties and nineties. The gunshots heard at the end of the last act gradually change into the triumphant beating of gongs and drums. The colors on the stage are bright and lively.

Pro A: The Cuban Revolution has won! The Cuban people can now stand up! The reactionaries have been toppled and the imperialists have all run away![43]

Then,a series of piercing gunshots ring out from the left side. Pro B runs in that direction. The gunshot sounds gradually disappear.. Pro B bolts back over from the left.

Pro B: The hopes of the imperialists and all reactionaries are still alive. There’s no way they will simply retreat from the stage of history. They want to strangle Soviet power while in its infancy; they want to contain the new China;they want to overthrow the Cuban Revolution. Their calculations are all wrong!

A series of piercing gunshots ring out from the right side. Pro C runs in that direction. The gunshot sounds gradually disappear. Pro C bolts back from stage right.

Pro C: Turbulence and then failure, repeated by more turbulence and failure again,until finally extinction. That is exactly how all imperialist and reactionary cliques will be forced to exit from the stage of history.

The sound of gunshots rings out again followed by a prolonged echo. Pro A appears to have been hit. The stage lights start to change to cold colors.

Pro A: One Liu Qingshan.[44] Just one!

Another gunshot rings out. Pro A’s steps are heavy.

Pro A: Two Liu Qingshans. Only two?

Another gunshot rings out and is then followed by a continuous stream of gunshots. A feeling of gloom envelops the stage.

Pro A: Liu Qingshan again . . . (The beat of “this is humanity, this is the world” is heard from a distance. An image of Cheng Xitong[45] and his coterie in court are projected)

Pro B: After the rebel army attacked Havana, one of the soldiers asked Guevara for leave to visit his family. Guevara refused to give him permission.

Pro C: Hadn’t the revolution already been victorious?

Offscreen voice: Political power had been won but the revolution had just started.

Pro A: (illuminated by a fixed spotlight)Building the new society is an uphill battle. Thousands of years of exploitation and oppression have become a structure as firmly and deeply rooted as MountTai.[46] It hides behind the rhetoric of “humanity”and uses the authority of tradition. Within every nook and cranny, within each one of our past and present thoughts, within everything that remains hidden away far and wide, it stages a vengeful counterattack against the new Society. The old society is not simply on the other side of the mountains or across the ocean. It is not simply in your gun’s range or on your radar screen. Rather, it hides within the air you breathe and permeates the blood that circulates through your mind. When the time comes for you to assail the “enemy,” most likely you will have already become one of them. When you remove the veil of the “new,” perhaps we will only see that old face of yours!

Fourpeople imitate a children’s game of a horse-riding mime. Three people,, who aredressed in riding outfits, play the body of the horse, while the other personwears a horse’s mask. The three “riders” have golden saddles and silverstirrups hanging from their bodies. The “horse” on top keeps on kicking the “riders”down below and sometimes motions to the east or points to the west. The “riders”cannot avoid going in the wrong direction, and when they do, they are thenkicked and beaten by the “horse.” Moreover, the horse’s head bullies its side,which then bullies its backside, thereby forming a system that is not so differentfrom the old world’s class system. In a nutshell, this scene depicts the bureaucraticnew bourgeoisie’s betrayal of the socialists’ idealism and the alienation ofmass’s interests.[47]

Pro B: Facing the containment, acquisition, appeasement, and revolution of the old society, the stockholders—naturally attaining status and wealth, private homes and automobiles, servants and masseurs—quickly gained advantages from there turn on their investments. How is the way they manage themselves different from that of the Old World? Haven’t just the author changed and the cover become new? They are, more precisely, just a “bootlegged” copy of the Old World. [48]

A magician garbed in red and waving a red magic wand hops onto stage. Behind him two apprentices push a large cabinet, rotating it onto the stage. “Yours, mine, all of ours” is written in big letters on the face of the cabinet. After moving into position, they remove the cabinet’s front, rear,left, and right panels in front of the audience. After showing that it has nothing inside, the cabinet is reassembled. The two apprentices carry a plate to collect money from the audience. The audience checks their pockets and takes out whatever cash they have. The money is placed inside the cabinet. They place three or four locks and seven or eight seals on the cabinet’s doors. Then the magician covers the cabinet with a red cloth. He holds the magic wand and points to himself, points to the audience, and then points to the sky and the ground. An orchestral cadence sounds, and the magician lifts the red cloth off of the cabinet and the apprentices tear off the strips, opening the locks one by one. The cabinet’s doors are opened and there is nothing inside. The magician and apprentices look all about in confusion. Then, the charlatans exit the stage. Shortly thereafter, they are tied up with their hands behind their backs and pushed across the stage. Following their exit, three bullet shots ring out. The actors during these two sections should act with intensity and not allow their acting to turn into slapstick. The feeling should be akin to that of Animal Farm. In addition, since the actors used in these two acts are all from the group of Five Greats, one should make sure there is enough time between the two acts.

All Pros: But the true revolutionaries are deep in thought about what to do.

Mass Criticism: What the hell can be done! Power becomes useless if it isn’t used.Even mid-level officials know this now. He’s embezzling money, so you had better embezzle too. Only A-holes don’t embezzle.

These are all everyday discussions that take place at the dinner table and in front of the television. Some could be recorded and played back in the theatre. Ideally, they will include the voices of men and women and people of all ages speaking in a variety of accents and accompanied by the sounds of daily activities, such as stir-frying and babies crying.

Pro C: Actually nothing better can be done. The Revolution in the 20thcentury was really half-baked and naive.

Several soldiers are carrying logs on their backs in the construction site. As the earth spins, day turns into night and night into day. This cycle is repeated many times.

Pro A: Guevara and his comrades in Cuba’s leadership organized cadres to take part in physical labor as a way for them to be among the people.Every season Guevara would voluntarily do physical labor for 240 hours. He spent ten days each month for eight hours a day toiling in the construction sites, factories, or sugar cane fields. This is quite unbelievable considering that he had asthma and was a major government official obligated to affairs of the state. He often had to roll down his pants to conceal his mud-covered boots and brush dirt of his clothing before rushing off from construction sites to meet entourages of foreign dignitaries. (the sound of brushing off clothing is amplified)

All Pros: (sitting on top of a pile of logs and bricks) Actually all that we possess is a type of apprehension. We are afraid of leaving the sides of the people. We are afraid of representing the people to only end up neglecting them and betraying the ideal of the revolution. (music plays)

Pro B: Guevara and his comrades were hardworking and down-to-earth. They put the public above their private needs. He strictly forbade his family from enjoying any special treatment. His family could only buy what the government rationed.He said that a revolutionary must understand sacrifice. When he led government representatives to attend international meetings, each person would only be given a few US dollars. (The sound of metal coins falling into a terracotta urn is amplified. These sounds are repeated several times.)

Mass Criticism: He wants to be upright and honestly serve the public. What if he doesn’t want to? How many people can be like Guevera! The great pandas have a preserve, but does Kong Fansen have one also?![49] Studying Lei Feng’s example just lands one in an insane asylum. (This is also a recording.)

All Pro: Actually all that we possess is a type of apprehension. (exits)

The beat of “This is humanity, this is the world” is heard from a distance. A group of good-for-nothings, led by the Five Greats, enter the construction site.

The Five Greats: We’ll be waiting for the sun to freeze over before the new house will be built. Tear it down![50] (Pulling out a plank from the structure)

Good-for-nothing A: (Picking up an armful of bricks) I’ll first use these to pave over the old road.

Good-for-nothing B: I want to build a villa in the same style as those in the foreign concessions.

Good-for-nothing D: I’ll fucking build a mansion like Prince Gong’s![51]

The good-for-nothings tear down the new society like there’s no tomorrow, once in awhile quarreling with each other. Gunshots resound and the good-for-nothings run offstage.

All Soldiers: Actually what we really have is just a type of melancholy.

The light dims. The sound of gunshots rings out again. The following fabalistic poem is recited:

Before, a group of slaves destroyed their fetters.
They took over the palace and moved inside.
They locked the old King and his men in prison.

Later,another group of slaves destroyed their fetters.
They took over the palace and moved inside.
They locked the new King and his men in prison.

Later,another group of slaves destroyed their fetters . . .

Finally one day a voice of virtue spoke:
From this day on, the king and slaves would be no different.
From this day on, no one was higher or lower than anyone else.

The slaves all said that this was the best.
And thus they joined in heart and might,
Tearing down at once the prisons and palaces.

They sought to build a new house.
The new house would be neither a palace nor a prison.
But no one knows what it would be in the end.

The slaves have only seen the palace and lived in the prison.
They have only been stepped on and only know how to step on others.
Their feet tread the old road; their mouths sing the old tune.

Building followed by demolition results in nothing at all.
Amidst the drenching rain and gusts of wind, billowing yellow leaves fill the sky.
The earth and heavens keep spinning and there is no stopping time.

Finally one day a voice of wisdom spoke:
Whether or not the house is new actually is not important.
The key is whether or not the house is any good.

The key of the key is:
To live in comfort and security.
Who is high and who is low is really of no consequence.

The key of the key is:
To no longer believe in dreams or follow one’s heart’s desires.
The needs of the heart and mind have always been dubious.

The slaves heard this and thought:
There are millions of houses in the world,
Why not first take a look at them all?

The slaves traversed the seven seas,
There were indeed millions of houses in the world.
But in the end they ended up being nothing but prisons and palaces.

Thus only two roads can take you from here to there.
Some of the slaves persevere, while others retreat;
Some keep wavering indecisively back and forth.
Over there, towers that look both modern and ancient quickly rise under the sunlight.
The ten floors above and below ground are occupied by exactly ten classes of people.
The structure can never be changed, but it is said that the number of floors can be adjusted at will.

Here within the darkness, the entrance to the new houses still can’t be found.
But the stars in the distance shimmer in the eyes of the slaves like before.
They build, rebuild, and tear them down, one by one, again and again . . .

Act 4: Farewell to Cuba

This act builds upon the previous act’s line of thought regarding “how not to build the new society into the old society.” It tells of Guevara and the other central government officials bidding farewell to Cuba and saying goodbye to family members as they head off to the jungles of Bolivia. Guevara is returning to his life as a guerilla, once and for all bidding farewell to his “old self” and heading toward the “new person.”

 Pro B: After Guevara resigned from his position as an official of Cuba—leaving the highest military position in the Cuban government—he headed for Congo and Bolivia to return to the jungles. Within the world’s darkest corner, he once again fought the incredibly grueling guerilla warfare in the jungles.

The good-for-nothings debate among themselves within the darkness.

 The Five Greats: Did he take a fall?! Tumble to the very bottom?

Good for Nothing: He’s smart! The next in line have only a limited patience.

Good for Nothing: He’s crazy! He’s got to be after something!

Pro C: What can you see through the crack of the door of the old society? What can you think of when you are blindfolded by individualism? Fame is what makes you feel proud. Personal gain is what you quibble over. Your self is what you love to death. Selfishness is what you tirelessly seek. And that’s why you oppose the revolution. That’s why you use revolution. That’s why you distort the revolution. That’s why you trample upon the revolution. Guevara was striving for a different type of dignity. How heroic it is to unconditionally give one’s life to mankind in the pursuit of the cause of equality! His departure signals the alarm for revolution, restores the true color of idealism, and marks off the boundary of the New World—all hypocrites, opportunists, and wheeler-dealer types must keep out! (music plays)

Several people who look like students and are dressed up in different period clothing are passing around letters. This symbolizes how Che Guevara’s revolutionary spirit inspires generation after generation of young adults.

 All youth: Guevara wrote a farewell letter to his fellow comrades-in-arms.

An image of Fidel Castro is projected. Music and drumbeats accompany an offstage voice of a mature-sounding man:


At this time I am reminded of many things, of when we met at María Antonia’s house, of when you proposed that I should come along, of all the tension of the preparations.
One day they came by, asking who was to be informed in case of death and the real possibility of that hit home to all of us. Later we knew that it was true—in a Revolution you either triumph or die (if it is a real one). Many comrades were left behind on the road to victory.
Today everything has a less dramatic tone, because we are more mature, but the event repeats itself. I feel that I have fulfilled that part of my duty that tied me to the Cuban Revolution in its territory, and I say my farewells to you, to the comrades and to your people, that is now mine too.
I formally resign my positions within the leadership of the Party, of my post as Minister, my rank of Commander, my status as a Cuban citizen. Nothing legal binds me to Cuba, only ties of another kind that cannot be broken as official appointments can.
Recalling my past life, I believe that I have labored with enough honor and dedication to consolidate the revolutionary triumph. . . I have lived magnificent days, and felt at your side the pride of belonging to our people.
Other lands call for my modest efforts . . . and the time for us to separate has arrived.
Let it be known that I undertake this with a mixture of joy and sorrow; I am leaving behind the purest of my hopes as a builder and the dearest among those I love . . . and I leave behind a people that took me in as a son. That wounds a part of my spirit. I carry to new battlefields the faith that you instilled in me, the revolutionary spirit of my people, the feeling of fulfilling the most sacred of duties: to fight against imperialism wherever it may be. This comforts and heals the deepest wounds.
I will just say that I free Cuba of any responsibility except that which stems from its example. If my hour of reckoning comes beneath other skies, my last thought will be of this people and of you. To my wife and children I leave nothing material and that does not sadden me. I am happy for it to be so.
I would have so much to say to you and our people, but I feel they are unnecessary, words cannot express what I would want them to, and it isn’t worth filling more sheets of paper.

Forever onwards to victory!
Fatherland or death![52]

Project the images of Guevara’s parents on the screen. Offstage voices of elderly men and elderly women recite the following: (recited in unison or as a chorus, such as a round)

Dear Viejos:

Once again I feel under my heels the ribs of Rocinante,* I return to the trail with my shield on my arm . . .

Many will call me an adventurer, and I am, but of a different type, of those who put their lives on the line to demonstrate their truths.

It could be that this will be the definitive one. I don’t go looking for it but it is within the logical calculation of probabilities. If itis to be, then this is my final embrace.

. . . For you, a big hug from your obstinate and prodigal son.[53]

Project the image of Guevara’s children on the screen. Offstage a chorus of children recites:

Dear Hildita, Aleidita, Camilo, Celia, and Ernesto,

Your father is this type of person: he acts upon what he thinks and is faithful to his convictions.
I hope that you become outstanding revolutionaries. Don’t forget that revolution is the most important thing. Each one of us, as only individuals, cannot amount to much.[54]

. . . Above all, always be capable of feeling deeply any injustice committed against anyone, anywhere in the world. This is the most beautiful quality in a revolutionary. . .[55]

All Youth: There were seventeen more Cuban revolutionaries who volunteered to go with Guevara to Bolivia, including four Communist party leaders from Cuba. Not one was over thirty-five years old. They all had wives and children, and when they departed, they all left farewell letters for them. Other than three who barely survived, they all sacrificed their lives. (The above is read by the youth in turns. Music starts.)

Offstage Child: My dear son, this year you are four years old . . .

Offstage Wife: My dear wife, it hurts to leave you . . .

Offstage Elderly: Dear Mom and Dad, if in battle I . . .

The music begins suddenly and loudly. The youth toss letters into the air. The image on the screen shows a white bird with its wings spread soaring against a blue, red, and black sky.

Singing: “Soaring”
If the land is flooded over,
Above the ocean shall you soar.
If the ocean dries up,
n the sky shall you soar.
If lightening crashes,
In the fire shall you soar.
If the flames are extinguished,
Amongst the suffering shall you soar.

If the past is forsaken,
Then into the future shall you soar.
If the future retreats,
Then in the present shall you soar.
If the present flounders,
Then within our hearts shall you soar.
If our spirits are despondent,
Then within creation shall you soar.

Soaring, soaring!
Forever soaring!
Soaring, soaring!
Soaring for all eternity!

Act 5: The Battle in the Jungle

Defeat is almost guaranteed for an outfit with less than one hundred guerillas that is up against the world’s most powerful imperialist fighting machine. But within the Bolivian jungle, Guevara and his fellow comrades-in-arms shone with the glory of their idealism and embodied the spirit of humanity. They revealed the true importance of their mission: it was not simply some chance military operation or political movement conducted by a random political party or clique. Rather, it was a missionary-like expedition to awaken the world by spreading morality through bloodshed, promoting principles through self-sacrifice, inspiring peoples throughout the world, and paving the way for future generations.

The set’s background is a huge balance. The narrator comes to the front of the stage.

Pro A: (In a calm voice) In November 1966, Guevara landed in Bolivia. In October 1967, he was captured and executed. He had been pitted up against the government’s army, which had been trained by and placed under the command of the US military for nearly one year.

The beat of “This is humanity, this is the world” is heard faintly from the distance.

Pro B: What really was pitted up against one another? What in the end means success or failure? (exits)

Two separate spotlights illuminate the two people. On the left is a guerilla in ragged clothes, and on the right is the “Five Greats,” armed from head to toe.

Pro A: (pounding the butt of a gun on the ground) We should attack all the way into the enemy’s home . . . including their dining tables and bedrooms. We should beat them senseless until they are begging to die!

Con I: (clenching his teeth) We can’t lose another country, like we lost Cuba, for not keeping a lookout. Keep your eyes peeled! Keep your ears attuned! Keep your noses ready to sniff them out! Keep your minds on alert! Bomb them to death! Starve them to death! Tire them out! Wear them out! Choke them to death! (the lights dim)

Pro B: On one side is the guerilla outfit with fewer than one hundred soldiers. On the other side is almighty imperialism.

The spotlight shines on a peasant squatting between two people.

Con I: (Kicking the peasant) Hey, listen up! Recently a gang of bandits was spotted in this area. Half of them were child-eating foreigners. If you see anything, report it at once!

Peasant: Yes, sir. (Pointing to the guerillas) Why have these people come out to the sticks?

Pro C: (Kindly) We’ve come to help people escapefrom the bitter sea of suffering.[56]

Peasant: Come again? What are you talking about? Who’s “suffering?” (Looking all around) My daddy and granddaddy before him all lived like this. Why do you say then that I am “suffering”? (The bootlicking scholars, led by “the Five Greats,” run up clucking like hens laying eggs)

Scholar: The people I detest the most are those who act like Messianic saviors and tell others how to live. If people don’t mind being poor, then whose business is it anyway!

Pro B: Your life will be better if the future revolution is victorious.

Peasant: When’s that goin’ be? (The above should be a conversation between two voices rather than between two characters. Therefore, it is not necessary for the peasant to face the guerilla as if involved in a conversation, but rather, they can recite the lines as if mindlessly reading Red Army slogans)

Con I: (Taking out a bunch of money) The “future”? How can the “future” beat out cash! Take it. First find a wife and then buy a coffin. (The peasant accepts the cash and bows repeatedly)

Pro C: Wait for the revolution—(Interrupted by ghoulish laughter filling the theatre and the drumbeat of “this is humanity.” Inserted below is a brainwashing “living newspaper” vignette, in which the narrative on the past turns into a debate on reality)

Fig.4: The Cons "brainwash" the Pros.

Fig.4: The Cons “brainwash” the Pros.

Con I: You’ve never heard of the bead of nine stars?

Con II: You’ve never heard of the great cross in the universe?

Con III: You’ve never heard of the national earthquake bureau making a forecast?

Con I: How could there possibly still be people talking about “revolution”?

Con II: How could there possibly still be people writing about “revolution”?

All Cons: How could there possibly still be people dressing up to act out “revolution” on stage?

Con IV: Fortunately no one is actually making a revolution. (All Cons take out large brushes)

Con I: (Scrubbing the head of Pro A) I’ve been washing for so many years. How could I have missed one?

Con III: (Scrubbing the head of Pro B) Then add thirty more Hollywood blockbusters each year!

Con IV: (Scrubbing the head of Pro C) You look like an emaciated monkey rather than someone who had too much to eat.

Con II: (Tossing away the brushes) It’s got to be that they have gone fucking nuts from being poor. One shouldn’t worry about being poor! We can play around with the stock market, play around with futures, play around with real estate, and play around with the Internet! We can play around with female empowerment, feminism, women’s solidarity, and women’s ideology! We play around with post-modernism, pre-modernism, pre-post-pre pre-modernism, post-pre-post post-modernism! If that’s not enough, we can play around with rock n’roll, experimentalism, and the avant-garde. We can strip naked in front of our foreign friends and play at streaking! There are thousands upon thousands of diversions in this world. Why must you insist upon playing around with revolution! Today the most powerful mantra is—

All Cons: WWW.COM!

Con II: Today the least powerful voice is—

All Con: Stupid fucking——revolution!

Con III: Isn’t revolution just reciting Buddhist sutras? I love WorldlyPleasures.[57]

Pro A: Revolution allows the hungry to eat their fill!

Con I: Isn’t revolution just destruction? We just finished decorating our home.[58]

Pro C: Revolution makes every family a true family and each person a true person!

Con II: Isn’t revolution just a pack of dimwits following one demagogue!

Pro I: Revolution opposes all oppression.

Con IV: Better just not to bring up revolution.

Con I: Better just not to bring up resistance.

All Cons: Isn’t this all for the best?

Pro A: Will exploitation decrease without opposition?

Con I: Maybe, if you happen to catch me in a good mood.

Pro B: Will oppression stop without a battle?

Con II: The more you fucking fight against me, the more I’ll oppress you. I dare you to resist!

Pro C: Are they willing to reform without revolution?

Con III: Are we willing?

Pro A: Without peasant uprisings time and time again, would dynastic rulers have made appeasements?

All Cons: (pushing the heads of the Pros) Uh-uh!

Pro B: Without the persistent rise of labor protests and the founding of socialist camps, would welfare states have appeared after the war?

All Cons: (pushing the heads of the Pros) Uh-uh!

Pro C: If the Cuban people had not stood up for themselves, would the US have given Latin America economic aid and assistance?

Con I: Did that really happen?

Pro A: If the Chinese people had not stood up for themselves, would Chiang-kai Shek and company have implemented land reform in Taiwan?

All Cons: (swinging their hips) Uh-uh!

All Pros: If the oppressed had not clenched their fists, would the oppressors have loosened their money belts?

All Cons: I suppose—not!

The narration continues. A follow spot illuminates a peasant who is holding money and bowing over and over again to the Five Greats.

Pro A: These people, who have been smashed down to the lowest rungs of society and stripped of everything, even the opportunity to meet their basic needs, by the Old World, would rather inform on Guevara to the government’s military than support Guevara’s guerilla operative. The rear guard was led by a campesino into an encirclement of government troops (the sound of running water is heard). Nineteen of their troops, including the young German woman communist party member, were ambushed while crossing over a stream. They fearlessly faced their deaths, taking up their guns to fight back. They all ended up sacrificing their lives within that river. The guerrillas fought their last battle. (Vigorous gunshots are heard followed by the forlorn cries of birds)

Pro B: The French author and intellectual Régis Debray had lived and struggled with Guevara’s guerilla team. He wrote the book Revolution in the Revolution, which was widely read by youth in the West. In the book he tells us about Guevara’s team of guerrillas.

Pro C: I am Régis Debray. Guevara unrolled and rolled up his hammock by himself, not letting others help him. He strictly abided to the rules, never eating more than anyone else and carrying the same weight on his back. One time when he was crossing a river, his rations fell into the water. He refused to tell anyone else about what had happened, and he didn’t eat for an entire day. He stuck by his principles of equality and perseverance, which he used as a way to test the integrity of others. Guevara is pure at heart and resilient in strength. (While Régis Debray narrates, the three Cons sit on rungs of different heights on a ladder that leans on the other side of the stage. Those sitting on the lower rungs are tying the shoes for those sitting above—or some other similar arrangement)

(Lights dim)

Spotlight. The Five Greats orders a young cadet (played by a child): “Get on stage!” At the same time the music stops. The young cadet cautiously enters the stage. The guerrilla troops raise their rifles and take aim for an extended period of time. (While the soldiers are aiming, the young cadet exits the stage.) “Guevara’s Diary” is heard from offstage.

Offstage Voice: Today we were ambushed the whole morning. The enemy’s army vehicles pass by on the road and the enemy soldiers in the vehicles are all too young. I haven’t the courage to open fire on them. (lights dim)

A local boy (played by the same boy as above, which should be made known to the audience), wearing pants made out of burlap sacs, runs up to the guerrillas saying: “Uncle, I want to join the guerrillas and be your guide.” The guerrilla says: “You are still too young. You should go to school.” The boy says: “I don’t have any money. I only have a hen. I’m going to sell it to buy books.” The guerrilla takes out some money, saying: “Young brother, take this and buy books for school.” The boy takes the money and leaves the guerrilla, and the Five Greats restrains him by the collar: “Hey, you little Communist spook! Execute him!” The enemy lifts the boy up and exits the stage. A gunshot resounds, followed by the faint sound of the boy falling to the ground.

Sounds of a skirmish are heard—”Ping ping pong pong”—and a spotlight shines on Con II who has been captured by the guerillas. Pro II is also injured and has fallen into the hands of the Five Greats. The Five Greats boxes Pro II to the ground, and the entire stage darkens, with sounds of hell filling the air: a beast of prey snarling and slashing and the hideous whaling and whining of an electric drill, electric dig, lathe, and a milling machine. Then, the sound of a helicopter’s rotating propellers is heard. The Five Greats ferociously laughs: “Shark brothers, time for supper. Get down there!”

The sound of a guitar is heard. A spotlight shines on the other side of the stage, where Con II is holding a cup of coffee and reminiscing about the past: “I am Major Sánchez. The night we were captured, we were on a mountaintop, and it was very cold. I talked a long time with the guerilla Marquez. He had someone make a cup of coffee, and I really wanted to drink it. But I thought that they were making it for themselves since everyone was shivering from the cold. I was surprised that he politely offered the coffee to me. It gave me the feeling of a more noble humanity. I didn’t want to accept the coffee, but he insisted and told me it was made especially for me. I am very appreciative of this, and my heart will never be able to forget it.”

Offstage voice: Major Sánchez later became a key left-wing activist.

On one side of the stage, the Five Greats is yelling: “Who’ll do it for ten pesos!?” Two government troops think it’s too low and step away. “Ten dollars! Eight pesos a dollar!” The two still hesitate to move forward. The Five Greats: “Twenty dollars! Eliminate Guevara!” The soldiers advance: “Eliminate Guevara, twenty times eight!”

On the other side of the stage, Guerrilla III falls down after being hit by a bullet. Guerrilla IV pulls him up. Guerilla III says: “Forget about me, hurry up and get out of here!” Guerrilla II carries guerrilla I on his back and says: “This is not simply a military operation.” (the lights dim and the music begins)

Pro B: Guevara’s troops, no matter whether we look at them from the perspective of today or from back then, we were fated to lose. But we should look at Guevara’s spirit from a different perspective and weigh it with a different balance. This is the contest between two types of lives and value systems. Its success or failure does not depend on the amount of weapons or US dollars, or how many lives are slaughtered and souls bought. Rather, it depends on whether or not his spirit can ignite our heart’s passion and be passed down in song, shining light on history.

The stage is lit. A “living newspaper” performance begins. The performer runs on stage waving a Beijing Youth Daily newspaper, shouting: “Someone drowned!” He opens the newspaper and reads: “One day this month someone drowned in the Yongding River . . .” Pro I takes off his clothes and tries to jump into the river to save the person, but he is blocked by the group of Cons waving small abacuses. Con I (the Five Greats) asks Pro I:

Con I: Who drowned?

Pro I: A girl.

All Cons: Add two![59]

Con I: How old?

Pro I: Five or six.

All: Add three! Move the large beads down and move the two small beads up.

Con I: How about her IQ? Can’t be too high, otherwise she wouldn’t have let herself fall into the river instead of pushing someone else into the river.

All Cons: Subtract three.

Con I: What’d she look like?

Pro I: Large eyes and a round face.

All Cons: Add five!

Con I: She’d get a higher score if her face were shaped like a pumpkin seed.

Con I: What did her parents do?

Pro I: They were peasants.

All Cons: Subtract eight! She gets a total score of seven!

Fig.5: The Cons use abacuses to calculate a person's "point value"

Fig.5: The Cons use abacuses to calculate a person’s “point value”

Con I: (Stopping Pro A) Stop, I have to give you a score! Your age? Eighteen. Did you go to college? Peking University! Your major? Biology! Did you take the TOEFL? That’s strange.You didn’t attend New Oriental’s English language preparatory school?[60]How about the occupations of your parents?Work for private enterprise. Plus striking looks . . . exceptional speaking skills . . . and afraid of nothing! A total score of one hundred and eighty!Hurry up and put your clothes back on. Go back and be especially careful when you cross the street. Why throw away one hundred and eighty points only to get seven points! Such a huge loss is simply an economic crime!Now it’s a market economy and profits are number one! (toward another youth) You’ll also suffer a loss .. . (toward another) It’seven less worth it for this one. (Then finding an elderly person.This elderly person need not appear on stage.)How old are you? Eighty-four. That’s the ideal age for jumping into the water. Do you have an illness like cancer? You say it’s in an advanced stage! You can’t manage climbing over the wall? A loss can be turned into a profit only if you can. Just jump in, our gang will help you watch your clothes. When you’ve finished, we’ll send your clothes to your family together with a “medal for courage and heroism.” (All Cons exit while singing “goose, goose, goose, arching its neck and singing to the sky”)[61]

The Pros face the audience standing in one row.

Pro A: Whoever in the audience only knows how to stingily count pennies may now leave.

Pro B: Whoever in the audience thinks he or she is watching a free performance when encountering an injustice in the street may now leave.

Pro C: Whoever in the audience is captivated by reading mediocre philosophy to the point of thumping the table while shouting “bravo” may now leave.

Pro A: Whoever in the audience thinks that the powerful should exploit the weak and the lives of the ordinary people are simply expendable may now leave.

Pro B: Whoever in the audience feels special and privileged by smugly playing music and honking the horn when driving a Honda or Lexus and passing by those in tattered clothing, may now leave.

Pro C: Whoever in the audience is the dog and horse of the rich when awake, the sibling of the rich when dreaming, and composes songs and writes plays for the rich when half dreaming and half awake, may now leave.

Pro A: Whoever in the audience counts one dime and three pennies as three dimes and one penny, and still remains after negating oneself, existing with nothing else other than oneself, may now leave.

Pro B: Whoever in the audience thinks that exploitation and oppression have the experience and ability to provide a high return with low risk, and with its track record of four thousand years, is the most ideal investment for human life, may also leave!

All Pros: Because we are speaking of Guevara, we are speaking of justice! (The stage darkens)

Singing: “Gospel”

You are salt yet do not taste salty; you are a light yet not bright;
You cannot see anyone.
You are blood yet don’t look red; you are a dagger yet not sharp;
You don’t care about anyone.
You are a tree without blossoms; you are a flower without fruit;
You don’t care for anyone.
You are human but do not love each other; you have love but don’t cherish it;
You don’t trust anyone.
Just like this thousands of years have passed without a sound;
Just like this people come and go without any real change.

Amongst you those who are humble are fortunate;
This is because the sacred kingdom belongs to them.
Amongst you those who are in deep sorrow are fortunate;
This is because they will receive the largest consolation.
Amongst you those who long for love are fortunate;
This is because they will achieve eternal life.

Night is already upon us;
The precognizant hand quavers on the wall,
Leaving behind an eternal maxim.

The candle is lit and glows amidst the darkness of the stage.

Rapper: When the workers in the tin mines in Bolivia heard the news about the guerrillas, they immediately went on strike. After the failure of the guerrillas, workers each year light a candle at the bottom of a well to pay tribute to the guerrillas’ heroic spirit. From Rome to London and Bombay to Mexico City, Guevara raised a sword for the powerless and devoted himself to the cause of justice. All throughout the world he lit people’s hearts and spirit. The long eve of exploitative and oppressive societies is rousing the next revolution. A spark will cause a great fire! This fire will bring dawn!

Epilogue: To Die as a Martyr

This part talks about Guevara’s detainment at the elementary school in La Higuera after being injured and captured. In just a few hours the enemies would shoot him to death. Let us once again listen to what people said before and after his death through his ears, and see what has happened and what will happen in the world through his eyes.

The stage is the classroom in which Guevara is being detained, and the backdrop should not be realistic, because the stage should rather express the atmosphere and the feelings. This door of this classroom opens from the back of the stage, and the wall opposite the door does not exist, or that is to say, the wall is behind the entire audience, and Guevara who is sitting against the wall seems like he’s sitting on every single seat in the audience. As in previous acts, Guevara is still presented to the audience through sounds without any visual representation.

Pro A: The guerrillas lost their last provisions, and their connection and communication with the external world were cut off. The enemy tightened their encirclement, and they fought their last battle in the Yuro Ravine. In order to help his comrades break out of the encirclement, Guevara took a major hit and fell into enemy hands. He was then detained in this classroom in an elementary school in the town of La Higuera.

The Five Greats enters and faces Guevara and the audience.

The Five Greats: You won’t surrender? I’ll kill whoever makes a move!

Offstage Voice: It’s too early to be happy. If one of us falls another will follow!

The Five Greats: Your utopian dream won’t last long! Soon, in the 1970s, your socialist comrade Allende will win power in Chili, but he will be quickly overthrown and meet a death even more horrible than yours! In the 1980s your Sandanista friends also came to power in Nicaragua, but they would be toppled in the same way they took power. The 1990s is even less worth mentioning. Stepping down one after the next, your big brothers spare us of any need to make an effort. Isn’t China your favorite? Let me tell you, at the end of the century, the minds of China’s elite intellectuals are only filled with American ideas. (Pulling a piece of paper out from a pocket.) Here is an application to support a conference—do you want to know the topic of the conference? “Bidding Farewell to Revolution!” Now there are no more troubles. This is the way the world has to be! (Exits)

Offstage voice: If the world can only be like this, then your troubles are not yet over!

The Rats, ideally played by one person, stretch their heads out from the entrance. If one considers the basic nature of this role, it would be similar to opportunists who today issue official documents, tomorrow run a bookstore, and the following day run an immigration service, in addition to scholarly posers who think they are so smart.

Rat I: Guevara, give me that half of your cigar. It will help me to make an advertisement for marijuana and heroine. You are my business opportunity. (exits)

Rat II: Guevara, give me the rights to your image. I want to print your image on t-shirts and sell them to all the clueless teenagers with acne and also pin up your image in a bedroom for adoring femmes. You are capital. (exits)

Rat III: I’ll manage your autobiography. You are the romantic knight of the 20th century and the classic wandering knight-errant of modern society. A woman lies at the center of it. It seems that you may have had something with that German woman guerilla even if you didn’t. (exits)

Rat IV: I’ve seen through your actions! Asthma! When you were only two years old you had asthma. When you had asthma attacks, of course you couldn’t breathe. When you couldn’t breathe, of course nothing appeared good to you. Since nothing appeared good to you, of course you wanted to make trouble. I’ve observed rabbits for seven years and researched mice for eight years. My eyes are dead on! (exits)

Offstage voice: The vile of the dark society, in defaming people as vermin, define “people” as those who have become accustomed to and skilled at viciously luring others into rat holes.

Guerrilla I—played by Pro I—who was captured with Guevara, enters.

Guerrilla I: Guevara, to battle with you was a great honor, to be executed with you for a just cause is my pride. (exits, series of chaotic gunshots)

Offstage voice: When this Bolivian comrade first came, his courage was weak. While fighting I always took him by my side, and the revolution created him and made him indomitable.

Guerrilla II— acted by Pro I—who was captured with Guevara, enters searching.

Guerrilla II: Guevara, I’ve lost my glasses, I can’t see anything, but I can see your excellent example. (exits, series of chaotic gunshots)

Offstage voice: Our job is to clear up people’s sight.

Guerrilla III: Guevara, I think our deaths were all worth it. (a series of chaotic gunshots)

Offstage voice: Our bloodshed is our contribution to the future world.

The Five Greats exits. The song “Granma” is heard, inspiring Guevara’s heartfelt monologue, the tone of which is poised yet filled with deep emotion.

Fig.6: The Pros eulogize Che Guevara.

Fig.6: The Pros eulogize Che Guevara.

Offstage voice: Fidel, it’s time to say goodbye forever. I am thinking of you, thinking of our people and our mission, and I’m thinking about Granma. (Lights dim. The images and sounds of Act I are seen and heard) I’m thinking that the road ahead is actually still very long. We are still very far away from reaching the other bank of the new people and new world. Indeed, just like a flying insect attracted to light, we are miniscule and limited. Sometimes when you see a beam of light you think it is the dawn. Sometimes when you come upon a single spark you think you’ve come upon a burning prairie. We will still lose our way and our boats will still capsize over and over again. But in the end there are just two choices, and in the end we chose brightness. Perhaps we will be neglected by the 20th century. Perhaps we’ll be forgotten by the 21st century. But this is all not important. The mission of justice is always filled with twists and turns. The Granma will still set sail again and again. (drumbeat starts)

The recording, with sounds of lightening and gusts of wind, varies in volume. It is mixed with electric noise and apocalyptic sounds, like the line “Cover you all over with kisses.”

Wherever there are cheaters and bullies,
Wherever there is calamity caused by despotism,

Wherever the rich squander food and wine,
Wherever people have frozen to death on the road—

That is where the blood of justice pumps through our veins!
That is where justice flares up inside us from head to toe!
That is where the knife of justice is unsheathed!
That is where the Granma will sail!

Set sail!
Set sail! Set sail!

Head toward the peasant rebellion led by Chensheng and Wuguang in Daze!
Head toward Spartacus at the Coliseum!
Head toward the Three Stone Bridge of today and yesterday.
Head toward the oppressive rent collectors.
Head toward the place where Negro slaves were kidnapped and detained.
Head toward the place where indigenous peoples were banished and murdered.
Head toward the place where weak nations fought against the British and Japanese.
Head toward the place where poor villagers fought against taxes and levies.
Head toward the place where the Jews were forced into a blind alley.
Head toward the place where the Palestinians are homeless.
Head toward the place where the Paris Commune fighters were finally defeated.
Head toward the place where President Allende is forever memorialized.
Head toward the place where in the former Yugoslavia mothers silently shed their tears.
Head toward the place where Tomahawk cruise missiles filled the air.
Head toward the place where despots and tyrants have sex day and night.
Head toward the place where ordinary people are mercilessly trampled upon.
Head toward the place where rich ladies throw money around like dirt.
Head toward the place where the wretched suffer through days as if they were years.
Head toward the place where a single official seal makes one rich.
Head toward the place where a lifetime of grueling toil amounts to nothing.
Head toward the place where a moral conscience is smothered and extinguished.
Head toward the place where darkness and evil are staging a comeback.

Offstage voice: Head toward the place that needs fire, needs light, and needs my voice!
All Guerrillas: Head toward the place that needs daggers, needs swords, and needs my fighting blows!

The stage lights up. The executioners enter carrying a gun, kneeling down in a row, wobbling.

Offstage voice: You cowards! You’ve come to kill us. Then open fire!

A young male teacher—played by Pro IV—from La Higuera’s elementary school enters and stands behind the executioners. At this moment an image of countless children’s eyes is projected.

Teacher: Guevara, I’m a teacher here at this school. Please tell the children, tell the future, what you are thinking right now at this moment.

Offstage voice: I’m thinking revolution can never perish!

The gunshots ring out and the color of the stage changes. When this world becomes empty, voices of children singing the “Internationale” ascend like the rising sun.

Arise ye prisoners of starvation

Arise ye toilers of the earth—

Translated by Jonathan Noble

*Don Quixote’s horse

[1] This English translation is based on the Chinese script published in Qie Gewala fanxiang yu zhengming (Che Guevara: Responses and Controversies), ed. Liu Zhifeng, Beijing: Zhongguo shehui kexue chubanshe, 2001. The play was first performed at the Beijing People’s Art Theatre’s Small Theatre Box. The play was performed 37 times in 34 days beginning on April 12, 2000. It is estimated that more than 9,700 people watched the play during its first run in Beijing. The play was performed at Henan University in November 2000 to an audience of more than 3,000 and then again in Guangzhou in the middle of December. The play was restaged at the theatre (capacity of approximately 1000) of Beijing’s Central Academy of Drama for 15 performances starting on December 26, 2000. In March 2001, the drama embarked on a tour to Shanghai, including a sold out performance at Shanghai’s Lanxin Theatre. The photos are from the restaging of the play in May 2005 by China’s National Theatre’s. [trans.]

[2] Shen Lin is usually credited with the play’s production concept. Huang Jisu was primarily responsible for the play’s script, and Zhang Guangtian was the director and composer of the music. However, the overall production of the play emphasized collaboration rather than specialization. I am extremely grateful to Shen Lin for facilitating this translation and for providing the video clips. His social and artistic vision was a true inspiration! I am grateful to Huang Jisu for reviewing the translation. I would also like to thank Nan Zhang for checking the English translation against the original Chinese and for her untiring enthusiasm. Howard Goldblatt provided translational advice and generous encouragement. I would also like to acknowledge Xiaomei Chen, Kirk Denton, Lionel Jensen, and Ruru Li for their kind intellectual support of this translation project. [trans.]

[3] “Footsteps” may be a reference to the famous last line of Lu Xun’s short story “My Hometown” (1921): “The road did not exist at first, but as more people used it, it became the road.” Zhang Guangtian, director ofChe Guevara, attaches important significance to this line in the play Mr. Lu Xun, which he wrote and directed the following year in 2001. [trans.]

[4] Jacobo Arbenz had been elected as President of Guatemala in March 1951. His government attempted to reduce the power of the influential US United Fruit Company by expropriating 84,000 of the company’s 234,000 hectares of land. This prompted the CIA’s plan to overthrow his government. On May 15, 1954 Colonel Carlos Castillo Armas began leading a small army of mercenaries from the Honduran border in the coup d’etat of Guetemalan President Jacobo Arbenz, which through the financing of the CIA and aerial support from Nicaragua, was consummated on June 27, 1954. During the coup, Che Guevara, then called Ernesto, was living in Guatemala City, and he supported the resistance before taking refuge in the Argentine embassy. See Hilda Barrio and Gareth Jenkins, The Che Handbook, New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2003, 57 and Paco Ignacio Tabio II, Guevara: Also Known as Che, New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1997, 38-39. [trans.]

[5] On July 26, 1953, Castro led a group of young Cuban revolutionaries to instigate an uprising. The attack on the reactionary government at the Mocada Barracks quickly failed. [trans.]

[6] The lyrics are from the “Zhiyuanjun junge” (Military Song of the Volunteer Army), which was commonly sung in China during the Korean War 1950-1953, known in China as the “War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea.” [trans.]

[7] In those past years we glorified the “Four Greats” of Chairman Mao. As expressed in the saying “Volcanoes erupting one by one and crowns dropping to the ground one by one,” the liberation efforts were at their height then. After several decades of changes and the creation of a new world, the capitalistic “New Roman Empire,” headed by the United States, has routed everything in its path. Its all-pervading arrogance can only be described as the “Five Greats.” [original footnote] Mao Zedong was first referred to as the “Four Greats” by Chen Boda on August 18, 1966 during a review of Red Guards at Tian’anmen Square. It refers to Mao Zedong as the “great teacher,” “great leader,” “great commander,” and “great helmsman.” [trans.]

[8] In the performance, the Cons, who are all played by women, sing these lines to musical accompaniment. The acting style by the Cons is exaggerated and farcical. Many of the lines should convey a strong sense of sarcasm. [trans.]

[9] The Chinese term used here, “beng pan” specifically refers to the collapse of stock markets. [trans]

[10] The multi-media projections, though in the script, were not part of the performance primarily due to technical and financial constraints. In a personal communication (1/6/05), Shen Lin expressed dismay at this, and he emphasized that the projected images should be included in future performances of the play. The student protest outside the US Embassy refers to the protest that occurred in Beijing following the “accidental” bombing by NATO of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in 1998. [trans.]

[11] This weekly 90-minute program, produced in part by Beijing Television (BTV), includes performances by celebrity guests. Audience members also have the opportunity to interact with celebrities by playing various games. The show is broadcast in over 100 cities in China, and its audience coverage is estimated at 132 million. [trans.]

[12] This phrase possibly refers to Gao Xingjian’s play The Other Shore, which was banned in China in 1986. Mou Sen, another influential experimental theatre director in China, directed a performance work entitledThe Other Shore in 1995, which was based on Gao Xingjian’s script. [trans.]

[13] This line is a proverb based on the concept of suffering and repentance in Buddhism. According to Buddhist scripture, “the bitter ocean is endless” for those who have committed a sin, and only through repentance can one “climb back on shore” to be reborn. [trans.]

[14] “Boulevard of Peace” is a reference to “Ping’an Dadao,” a major west-east thoroughfare, in Beijing. [trans.]

[15] This proverb comes from a story in the Lizi, tangwen in which a 90-year old man desires to move two mountains because they blocked his path. His children and neighbors worked so diligently to move the mountains that the gods were compelled to help him and carried the mountains away on their backs. [trans.]

[16] This proverb comes from a story in the Shan hai jingBeishan jing, in which the Emperor Yan Di’s daughter Nu Wa drowned and was reincarnated into a bird. The bird persistently tried to fill up the sea one stone at a time. [trans.]

[17] According to common historical record in China, it was the first large-scale peasant rebellion in China. In 209 BC, during the reign of Emperor Qin, soldiers were dispatched from Yuyang (today, Beijing’s Miyun) to Daze (today, Anhui’s Su County). Because the soldiers arrived late due to heavy rainfall, they were to be executed in accordance with Qin law. Two commanders, Chen Sheng and Wu Guang, organized a revolt, and after successfully capturing Qin territory, established a new government. They lay siege on the Qin capital, Xianyang, but after six months the revolt was crushed. Mobilization of peasant resistance, however, helped realize the ultimate overthrow of the Qin in 206 BC. [trans.]

[18] Located in Tianijin, Santiao Shi (Three Stone Bridge) is the name of a place renown for the capitalist exploitation of workers. After liberation, the area was turned into an exhibition center for class education.

[19] In the 1960s an artist created an exhibition of clay sculptures that was based on the cruel exploitation of the local peasants by the warlord and landlord Liu Wencai in Sichuan province. In recent years a number of scholars have relied upon photo-realism to examine the art’s resemblance to reality and have claimed that Liu Wencai’s reputation was unfair. I think Liu Wencai’s “halfway house” is fictitious, since artists are never ordered to fabricate the world’s exploitation and oppression.

[20] Salvador Allende Gossens (July 26, 1908 – September 11, 1973) was president of Chile from 1970 until 1973. As an advocate of Marxism and critic of the capitalist system, Allende’s socialist policies and close ties with Cuba caused high-ranking members of the United States government to be concerned that Chile would become a “communist state” and join the Soviet sphere of influence. On September 11, 2003. Allende was overthrown by a military coup led by by General Augusto Pinochet during which he died. The involvement of the CIA in the coup remains a controversial question. [trans.]

[21] One of Guevara’s ancestors, Don Pedro de Castro y Figueroa, was a viceroy of New Spain for a little over a year in the mid-eighteenth century. [trans.]

[22] “Sorry, bye” is originally in English in the Chinese script. [trans.]

[23] The title of a book written by Zhang Yunhe and published in 1999. [trans.]

[24] The Drum tower, initially built in 1272 during the Yuan Dynasty, was used to announce the time, much like a clock tower, during the Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties (1271-1911). The Drum Tower neighborhood was built in the 12th century as part of the inner city north of the Imperial Palace [trans.]

[25] Zhoukoudian is the excavation site of Peking Man. It is located 48 kilometres southwest of Beijing. The site includes fossils of Peking Man and their cave dwellings. Peking Man is believed to have lived about 690, 000 years ago, during the mid-period of the Pleistocene epoch. [trans.]

[26] After the failure of the Boxer Rebellion, the Eight Power Allied Forces, including Great Britain, the United States, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, Austria and Italy, seized Beijing and forced the Qing government to sign the Xinchou Treaty on September 7, 1901. According to this treaty, the Qing government was required to pay a war indemnity totaling 1billion taels of silver, which was then equal to China’s entire income over 10 years. [trans.]

[27] The term “liberatory struggle” (fanshen zhang) is being used facetiously since the term is usually used in the context of China’s revolutionary history to refer to the “libratory struggle” of the peasants against oppressive landlords. [trans.]

[28] Famous line from Li Bai’s (701-762) five-character quatrain “Reflections on a Quiet Night.” [trans.]

[29] It is a common saying in China that a twitching left eyelid means one will become wealthy. [trans.]

[30] This line refers to one of the goals of Qigong, which is to achieve a high level of energy circulation within the body. The line may also be a mocking reference to Falun gong, since this principle and objective of circulation is important in the practice of Falun gong. [trans.]

[31] “Tang yi pao dan,” (“sugarcoated bullet”) is a common revolutionary phrase. It refers to the offering of bribes or other incentives to officials (hence, the “sugarcoating”), but in the end the bribes are likened to bullets since they destroy the career of the officials. [trans.]

[32] It is stated in the Book of Rituals (Li ji, Liyun): “What are people’s feelings? Happiness, anger, sadness, fear, love, hate, and desire are the seven that come without having to study.” According to Han Gaoxiu’s annotation of the Spring and Autumn Annals, the six desires are life, death, hearing, seeing, tasting, and smelling. [trans.]

[33] Tan Zongjun and his son, Tan Zhuanqing, who were both members of Qing court officialdom, first opened their restaurant in Beijing at the end of the Qing Dynasty. Their dishes, which were popular among officials for their use of delicacies, such as shark’s fin and abalone, and light, natural flavors, are still served in Tan Family restaurants in Beijing today. Mao Family Cuisine refers to cuisine from Mao Zedong’s home province of Hunan with particular emphasis on dishes enjoyed by Mao Zedong. [trans.]

[34] The Sichuan Opera version of Turandot was written by Wei Minglun and performed in Beijing in 1998 at the same time the Zhang Yimou directed Turandot was performed in the Forbidden City.[trans.]

[35] For example: bird’s nest, duck, sliced smoked meats, pork leg, cabbage, chicken wings, pig stomach, and mushrooms. [trans.]

[36] The Manchu-Han banquet was given its name by the Emperor Kangxi, and it subsequently became famous in the palace and gained popularity among aristocrats and rich businessmen. The banquet included a diverse range of delicacies and traditionally and included hundreds of hot and cold dishes. [trans.]

[37] The “iron rice bowl” refers to the system of social guarantees, such as employment and housing, which was promoted in China after 1949 before starting to be gradually dismantled since 1978. [trans.]

[38] The Temple of Jiangnu is located at the foot of the Great Wall on the Mt. Fenghuangshan, four miles east of Shanhaiguan. According to legend, during the reign of Emperor Qin Shihuang (221-207 BC), Meng Jiangnu’s husband, Fan Qiliang, was forced into conscripted labor to build the Great Wall. Meng Jiangnu severely missed her husband and set off from Shanxi to Shanhaiguan to find him. When she heard that he had died of exhaustion, Meng Jiangnu’s wailing for several days and nights caused a 248-mile stretch of the wall to collapse. Emperor Qin planned to punish her, but when he set eyes on her, he was captivated by her beauty and decided to marry her. Before he could take her back to his palace, Meng Jiangnu jumped into the Bohai Sea. [trans.]

[39] Lei Feng (1940-1962), born into a poor peasant’s family in China’s Hunan Province in 1940, became an orphan in his childhood and had to beg in the streets to survive. After 1949, the local government sent him to school and Lei Feng joined the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) when he was sixteen. In 1961, Lei Feng was killed by being accidentally run over by an army truck. In his honor, the army published his voluminous diary and on March 5, 1962, Mao Zedong wrote an inscription and called on the entire nation to “Learn from Comrade Lei Feng.” Liu Shaoqi, President of China at the time, also wrote an inscription: “Learn from Lei Feng, his ordinary but great spirit of serving the people.” The campaigns characterized Lei Feng as selflessly devoted to China and to the cause of communism. [trans.]

[40] Yang Bailao is a character in the revolutionary opera White-Haired Girl (Bao maonu), written in 1946 by the Lu Xun Collective of the College for Art and Literature (Lu Xun yishu wenxueyuan jiti) under the direction of He Jingzhi, Ding Yi, and Ma Ke in Yan’an. It is loosely based on a local tale in which a cruel landowner, Huang Shiren, kills Xi’er’s father, Yang Bailao, and Xi’er flees from Huang’s tyranny and hides in a cave, living off of the offerings in a temple. Her hair supposedly turns white from living in the cave for several years. [trans.]

[41] See note 39. [trans.]

[42] “Dirty clothes and old pants” is metonymic for students and intellectuals. [trans.]

[43] These lines are taken from the widely known lyrics of the revolutionary song “Socialism Is Good” (“shehui zhuyi hao”) [trans.]

[44] Liu Qingshan, the former Party Secretary of Tianjin, was the first official to be executed on charges of corruption after 1949. He was sentenced by the provisional court of the People’s Court of Hebei Province in February 1952. [trans.]

[45] Chen Xitong was a former Politburo member, Beijing Party Secretary and Mayor of Beijing for 12 years. In April 1995 he was forced to resign from these posts due to allegations of corruption. The Beijing Higher People’s Court sentenced him to 16 years of imprisonment on charges of corruption and dereliction of duty in 1998. [trans.]

[46] Mount Tai , located in Shandong Province, is regarded as the first of China’s five sacred mountains. It has been the place of imperial worship and pilgrimage since the Qin dynasty. [trans.]

[47] This mime was excluded in staged performances of the play. [trans.]

[48] Piracy and “bootlegging” are major socio-economic issues in present-day China. These lines scoff China’s adoption of market capitalism. [trans.]

[49] Kong Fansen, former secretary of the Ngari Prefecture Party Committee, is applauded by the Chinese government for his selfless devotion to the development of Tibet. He worked for the communist party in Tibet for a total of 10 years. He died in a traffic accident while on his way to inspect border trade in Tacheng, Xinjiang, on November 29, 1994. [trans.]

[50] Demolition of old housing is a major socio-economic trend in Beijing, especially in the years leading up to the Beijing Olympics in 2008. [trans.]

[51] Prince Gong, the younger brother of Emperor Xianfeng (1851-61), had originally lived in the mansion located next to Hou Hai. However, the mansion is better known for its association with He Shen, a minister under Emperor Qianlong. After Qianlong’s death in 1799, Emperor Jiaqing charged He Shen with twenty crimes, one of which was that the mansion he had built was too elaborate and too closely resembled the places in the Forbidden City, and he was ordered to commit suicide. [trans.]

[52] I have used the translation of the letter as published in Hilda Barrio and Gareth Jenkins, The Che Handbook, New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2003, 314-16. The translation of the letter published in Paco Ignacio Tabio II, Guevara: Also Known as Che, New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1997, 411-412 was also consulted. Please note that ellipsis indicate that parts of the letter have been deleted. It should also be pointed out that the last line in the Chinese version of the letter is “Defend socialism or death!,” while in the English translation of the letter the same line is rendered as “Fatherland or death!” [trans.]

[53] The English translation of the letter originates from Barrio and Jenkins, 312. [trans.]

[54] These first two paragraphs do not appear in the English translation in Barrio and Jenkins. [trans.]

[55] The last paragraph is from the translation of the letter in Barrio and Jenkins, 360. [trans.]

[56] See note 12. [trans.]

[57] Originally a Ming dynasty kunqu opera about a Buddhist nun. (A scene from this opera is featured in Chen Kaige’s Farewell My Concubine.) Here, however, its mention is most likely a reference to the dramatic version of the opera adapted by the playwright and director Meng Jinghui and performed in Beijing in 1992, 1993, and 1998. The play is considered to be an example of “experimental” theatre, but its status as such seems to be mocked here. [trans.]

[58] With the enormous surge in private home ownership in China since the 1990s, decorating one’s newly bought home became a major socio-economic trend in China. [trans.]

[59] The following are terms used in calculating figures on an abacus. [trans.]

[60] New Oriental (Xin dongfang) is one of the top private English training schools in China that specializes in preparing students to take English language college entrance exams. [trans.]

[61] A line from the standard first grade elementary school textbook in China that is used to teach Chinese pronunciation. [trans.]