New Youth*

By Hang Cheng 杭程
Tr. and introduced by Jonathan Noble

Published by MCLC Resource Center
(Copyright September 2006)
Introduction to Play and Its Author


Zi Zhou: A teacher. A youth in search of social ethics and order. He is filled with doubts about the future.

Li Taiyan: CEO of an Internet company. A youth filled with anticipation yet delusion about the future. An idealist who aims to rely on the Internet and technology revolution to fulfill his ideal of humanity.

An Shilai: An intelligent Internet businessman, an opportunist. A schemer with a goal but no ideals. A dealer of revolution and drugs.

Ling’er: A girl who chases fashion but whose actions are blind. A dream that is pure but easy to break.

Mei Dakan: A hip youth.

Fortuneteller: A soothsayer of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Internet characters: Smart, Dumb, Brave, Lazy, Youda, and Internet Ling’er.

Others: Printers, Artists, Small Business Owner, Unemployed Worker, Prostitute, Cadre, Doctor, Movie Star, Hoodlum, Soldier, Teacher, Reporter, Rock n’ Roll Singer, etc.

Act 1
Early 20th Century-New Culture Movement

Scene 1: Father’s Lost

The afternoon of May 4, 1919. Zi Zhou walks by a wall filled with books. He looks disheartened and dispirited. An old, run-down tractor plows through the wall. The tractor is carrying student protesters who are vehemently shouting out slogans. The students rush forth from the tractor and hurl books down from the bookcase. They then topple over the bookcase. The ground is covered with shreds of the books that have been ripped apart. Zi Zhou enters. He is carrying Ling’er on his back. Red leaflets continue to float down from above.

Fig.1: A tractor carries student protesters on May 4, 1919.

Fig.1: A tractor carries student protesters on May 4, 1919.

Zi Zhou: It is five in the afternoon, May 4, 1919, the eighth year of the Republic. Seven hours ago, my father was lost. He was lost at the entrance to his own home. Then, I was still at school, as my father had instructed, and did not join my classmates in the ruckus. Later I left to look for my father. My classmates were surprised yet pleased when I suddenly appeared during their protest. My face, filled with concern and anxiety, looked no different from the expressions of my classmates who were chasing after democracy. I followed them, running all over the place, hollering slogans. But while they were searching for and calling for democracy and freedom, I was shouting out to my father and searching everywhere for him.

Zi Zhou puts Ling’er on the ground and helps her to stand.

Zi Zhou: Students, who were filled with resentment, were everywhere, and they were pursued by policemen. But my father was never found. Instead, I picked up a classmate—who happened to be a pretty girl. She attempted to act bravely before she was cruelly knocked down. She gnawed off any ear she managed to nab. I saw her bite off five ears. Although that’s not considered decent behavior for a girl, the way she looked so vicious and abandoned made me feel rather excited and distracted.

Zi Zhou cleans Ling’er’s wound.

Zi Zhou: It seems she hasn’t been hurt that bad.

Zi Zhou raises Ling’er’s head, looks carefully at her, and mutters.

Zi Zhou: What’s your name? You’re really pretty . . .

A whistle dangles from the mouth of An Shilai. He runs on stage holding a small, red flag. He stops running as soon as he spots Zi Zhou.

An Shilai (anxiously): Du, du, du (blowing a while before he gets a sound out of the whistle) Stop! What are you doing?

Zi Zhou: She’s injured. I’m putting a bandage on her wound. Shall I hand her over to you?

An Shilai (spoken with a stern countenance): My fellow classmate, this is a crisis situation. Hurry to assemble at the May Fourth Square in the west.

An Shilai blows a whistle, waving a red flag as he runs off stage. A policeman enters riding a donkey. He holds up a small, white flag.

Fig.2: A policeman tries to restore order amidst the wreckage.

Fig.2: A policeman tries to restore order amidst the wreckage.

Policeman: Stop, stop! What time is it? Don’t you know there’s a curfew? Get back home now. You’re a charge to public morality!

Zi Zhou: Hey, officer, my father’s lost. Can you help me look for my father?

Policeman: Don’t be disruptive. If you don’t behave, I’ll have you both locked up.

Zi Zhou: But I can see “Call the police if you need help” written on that wall. . .

Policeman: I’ve got no time for idle chatter.

The policeman exits. Li Taiyan, injured, enters carrying a small, red flag. Zi Zhou, calling out to him, stops him in his tracks.

Zi Zhou: (impatiently) Hey, there’s one of your female classmates over here. Do you even care?

Li Taiyan: Sorry, my classmate, as vice commander I’m rushing to get back to the office to make the print deadline. I’m in a hell of a rush. Please send her here, okay? I appreciate it.

Li Taiyan shoves a magazine into Zi Zhou’s hand. He rushes off. Zi Zhou looks dazed and at a loss for words.

Zi Zhou: (saying the name of the magazine) New——Youth?

A fortuneteller holds a small banner and enters. He looks lonesome yet projects an aura of arrogance.

Zi Zhou: This revolution has gone too far. Even the fortuneteller jeers along with the crowd.

The stage suddenly becomes silent.

Zi Zhou: (eyeing the fortuneteller and suddenly shouting): Mister, mister! Please wait!

The fortuneteller doesn’t respond. He stops for a moment, but then keeps on walking. Zi Zhou runs up to him and stops him.

Zi Zhou: Mister, please stop.

Fortuneteller: What is it?

Zi Zhou: My father’s lost.

Fortuneteller: At times like these, many have lost their fathers.

Zi Zhou: Yes, mister. But I beg you, sir, let me cast a lot and ask the whereabouts of my father.

Fortuneteller: Okay, tell me your father’s birth date.

Zi Zhou: (lost in thought) I’m as good as dead. I’ve forgotten. . .

Fortuneteller: Then there’s no way to do it.

Zi Zhou: (anxiously) Mister, don’t leave. Perhaps you’ve heard of my father. His name’s Kong Moran. [1]

Fortuneteller: (seems a bit surprised) Kong Moran?

Zi Zhou: You know him?

Fortuneteller: (giving Zi Zhou a look over) Kong Moran’s your father?

Zi Zhou: That’s right.

Fortuneteller: Known today as the great scholar of Chinese classics. Of course I’ve heard of him.

Zi Zhou: That’s great then, please, sir. . .

The shouting of slogans can be heard—”Overthrow feudal despotism!” Leaflets flutter down from above. Zi Zhou catches one of them.

Fortuneteller: You still need me to tell you his fate? Isn’t everything written right here?

Zi Zhou: (reading the leaflet) Overthrow feudalism! Overthrow tradition! Overthrow the old world!

Fortuneteller: Have you really not heard yet? Your father was condemned for being a spokesperson for the “old world.”

Zi Zhou: But he was just a scholar. Why’d they want to condemn him?

Fortuneteller: Useless. Guess he just got in the way.

Zi Zhou: Please, mister, clarify.

Fortuneteller: Look at the other side of the leaflet.

The fortuneteller leaves.

Zi Zhou: (reading the leaflet) The image of an old man disappears amidst tidal change; the millennial manor collapses one morn. Skilled artisans build a flying machine that heads toward the West to never come back.

Stage darkens.

Scene 2: The Culture Debate

The editorial office of the journal New Youth. Several printers are preparing the printing blocks, and they are tossing books into a paper shredder. A banner reads: “Science, Freedom, Democracy.” Li Taiyan runs on stage as he is inspecting the proofs.

Li Taiyan: Faster, faster, faster! Hurry and pass out our essays on freedom, democracy, and science to everyone throughout society. Expose the disgraceful violence of those in power who dare harm the students. Faster, faster, faster! I can no longer wait! The new world is just beginning. Fraud and corruption are getting worse by the day, and the country’s economy is on the brink of collapse. The peasants who have lost their land have started to riot! What is the most infuriating is that the country’s territory has been sold right from under our noses! China will soon no longer be China. So what’s wrong with the students’ demands to resist the foreign powers and purge China of its own traitors? What’s wrong with the students’ demands to “Rescind the Twenty-one Demands” and “Return Qingdao to China”[2] Yesterday the government’s statements that “China’s national interests are paramount” and “students are free to speak out” filled the air, but today they dared use guns and clubs against the patriotic students! Faster, faster, faster! Tomorrow we will continue disseminating our magazines and leaflets along all of the streets to inform the residents of the city how terribly dark the times have become. . .

The printers work even faster. An Shilai hurries on stage.

An Shilai: Taiyan! Taiyan!

Li Taiyan: Shilai, you had us worried to death.

An Shilai: What an incredible feeling! Today I led two hundred students to search and confiscate the homes of three fucking government leaders—”Big Stick” Cao, “Big Fat” Lu, and “Big Mess” Zhang. [3] On the way back we even burned down the residence on Zhao Jia Lou Boulevard.[4] Oh yeah, I nearly forgot, there was also a guy by the name of Kong Moran, that well-known spokesperson for feudal despotism.

Mei Dakan enters carrying magazine proofs.

Mei Dakan: You shouldn’t have searched the home of Mister Kong Moran.

Li Taiyan: Why not?

An Shilai: Are you saying this because he taught you for a few days?

Mei Dakan: (pointing at the proofs) But there are not many people like Mr. Kong, with such an encyclopedic breadth of knowledge.

An Shilai: How can you possible think we’d get it wrong! A scholar official of the Qing court, a protector of the feudal moral code, the personification of China’s putrid culture, and a degenerate professor who was even expelled from Peking University! Why shouldn’t we have searched and his house?

Mei Dakan: Mr. Kong was a good-intentioned reformist during the last years of the Qing. One could even say that he’s got a bit of the progressive in him.

An Shilai: Do you know how this Mr. Kong attacked our New Culture Movement? He said those “anxious for revolution despise or neglect their country’s history.” “What is the New Culture Movement? It simply means to destroy China’s culture.” He also said: “Culture is the country’s fate. When the culture perishes, so does the land. When the land perishes, can the country still survive?”

Mei Dakan: He’s clearly a scholar well-versed in China’s history and classics. His work is prolific and profound. He deserves his title as the master scholar of his generation.

An Shilai: What do you mean by scholar? Master of learning? No, he represents the scum of feudalistic ethics. Society can’t flourish unless its metabolism functions well. If society is filled with rotten, backward minds, then culture will never change for the better. Is that so good?

Mei Dakan: It’s clear he also loves his country. As for how to deal with China’s territory, Mr. Kong also vehemently opposed those who “sold out.” Although Mr. Kong may have a few conservative ideas, he should be someone we aim to recruit over to our side.

Li Taiyan: Mei, I disagree with your views. Just like what An Shilai said, the more Mr. Kong pretends to love his country, the more endangered the country becomes. Look at how you sympathize with him. That shows he’s got a mass base. That’s even more dangerous.

Mei Dakan: What do you mean?

Li Taiyan: Mr. Kong is a cultural pillar of the feudal society; the cultural idol of the feudal rulers. As long as he’s around, the base of feudal society will remain strong. In my eyes, Cao, Zhang, and Lu have just small roles. Mr. Kong is the source of the spirit of feudal society. Getting rid of him is our most important duty.

Mei Dakan: But we mustn’t attack him physically. . .

Li Taiyan: Of course we don’t want to attack him physically. Rather, we must completely wipe out the spirit of his ideas. From today on, we’ll publish outstanding progressive articles, like this one: “Declaration of the New Youth,” as well as “On Iconoclasm,” “Some Modest Proposals for the Reform of Literature,” “Western Democratic Politics,” etc. [5] And we’ll then completely wipe out Kong Moran’s influence in intellectual and cultural circles, as well as throughout all of society.

Zi Zhou is carrying Ling’er on his back. Suddenly there is a sound of commotion.

Zi Zhou: Hurry! She needs help. . .

Ling’er is lifted off of Zi Zhou’s back.

Li Taiyan: Is that you? You’ve really come! How’s our classmate?

Mei Dakan: Oh, it’s you?

An Shilai: (speaking to the group) It’s Ling’er. She’s my classmate. Has she been badly hurt? We’ve been looking for her for a long time . . .

Li Taiyan: Is she your classmate?

An Shilai: Yes, yes, yes. We were together protesting and fighting on the streets, then we got separated.

Mei Dakan: She’s beautiful!

An Shilai: Of course, she was our school’s beauty queen.

Zi Zhou: Hurry and save her. I’m exhausted. Your so-called movement is going to kill me. What’s going on with you?

Li Taiyan: What’s your name? We should thank you.

Zi Zhou: Call me Zi Zhou.

Mei Dakan helps Ling’er to drink some water. Ling’er swallows and suddenly wakes up. But she is still in a semi-conscious state. Woozily, she starts to get wild.

Ling’er: We are this century’s new youth. We are like the early spring, the morning sun, a newly sharpened blade.

An Shilai: Ling’er, Ling’er, what’s wrong? Ling’er?

Ling’er: We must perform surgery on this rotten society! We must excise its putrid tumor! And transfuse it with the new blood of science, democracy, and freedom! Only then will there be hope for us!

Ling’er excitedly picks up books from the ground and throws them around. All of a sudden her glance freezes on the face of Li Taiyan.

Ling’er: Are you Li Taiyan?

Li Taiyan: Yes, why?

Ling’er faints before she can respond.

Ling’er is helped onto a chair. She suddenly wakes up and works herself up into another frenzy.

Ling’er: We must perform surgery on this rotten society! We must excise its putrid tumor! And transfuse it with the new blood of science, democracy, and freedom! Only then will there be hope for us!

She turns toward the group behind her and they echo her excitement. She exits.

Zi Zhou: Don’t be so worried about her. I’ve seen her wound. It’s not so deep. It seems over-excitement is the main cause of her dizziness. Protests, revolution, dissent are just the same as opium. If you overdose, it’s easy to get wildly excited and spout silly things until one knocks oneself unconscious. And it is incredibly easy to become addicted and so excited as to work oneself into a frenzy. Then one just spews nonsense until knocking oneself out.

An Shilai: (repulsed) What are you trying to say?

Zi Zhou: I mean her problem’s not so severe, but my problem is very severe.

Li Taiyan: What problem? Perhaps we can help you.

Zi Zhou: Eight hours ago, my father was lost.

An Shilai: The streets were in chaos. Why’d you let your old man out the door?

Mei Dakan: That’s right. Police were everywhere.

An Shilai: Where could we have looked with all the frenzy and havoc?

Mei Dakan: Taiyan, could our magazine help Zi Zhou by posting a “lost father” notice. The revolution must keep in mind the hardships of the masses.

Li Taiyan: That’s a good idea. On the way back, I ran into many classmates from all over China. Many were lost and separated from each other. We could also become a contact point for everyone by publishing these ads. Great, then we’d be able to bring all of these people into our fold. Zi Zhou, tell me your father’s name and basic information about him. Mei Dakan, jot it down.

An Shilai: I don’t see why not.

Zi Zhou: My father was a professor who was fired by Peking University. He was a penniless scholar. His name is Kong——Mo——Ran.

Li Taiyan: What?

An Shilai: What?

Mei Dakan: What?

Everyone is stunned and at a loss. Silence.

Zi Zhou: Now I know! You are the bunch who spitefully condemned my father in all those publications! You’re those so-called avant-garde figures who yell out to stop reading Chinese books and writing Chinese characters! You’re those progressive figures who turn their backs on their ancestors while sloganeering all day long! You’re that new faction of youth who seek to uproot Confucius and Mencius and deracinate the Confucian ethical system of hierarchical relations. I now know! You must be the ones who . . . My father!

An Shilai: (his attitude suddenly changing) How can you sound just like your stubborn father?

Zi Zhou: Why? Because I’m his son. I’m also a grandchild of this country. I refuse to give up reading and writing Chinese. I refuse to overthrow Confucius and Mencius and deracinate the Confucian ethical system of hierarchical relations. You want to write the vernacular. You seek a revolution. That’s all just fine, but you must also allow others to write and choose whether or not they want to participate in the revolution. I’m also a courageous patriotic youth. I also have ideals and obligations. I also hope for a prosperous country! But your revolution has severed my blood vessels and cut me off from my father’s life! I firmly oppose what you are doing!

An Shilai: Then you are a counter-revolutionary! Even more reactionary than your father! You’re simply an extremist reactionary! You’re a far cry from a New Youth for the New Century!

Li Taiyan: (indicates that An Shilai should calm down) Zi Zhou, we are all educated. We all pursue science, democracy, and freedom in order to destroy the old world and build a new society. For this, a number of weaponless classmates are bleeding, so I can only ask you: Which is better, the old or the new? The past or the future? Do you want this old world or the new future?

Zi Zhou: What’s all this about the “new” and the “old,” the “past” and the “future”? I only know that my father’s lost.

Li Taiyan: Zi Zhou, regardless of whether you stand by our side, as long as you are still alive, you can’t escape this question: Do you want this old world or a new future?

Zi Zhou: I don’t have a past. And I don’t know the future. (Shouting) I only know that I’ve got to live. My life’s in the present. And my life now is so——very——terrible!

Scene 3: The Coming of Age of the Century

The lighting changes. A spot illuminates Ling’er.

Zi Zhou: Before today I really hadn’t felt that my life during these times was so turbulent. Today that changed. Many people harbor great resentment toward the past and are unsatisfied with reality. They use awe-inspiring language to praise and await the coming of the future. However, will the future really be so amazingly beautiful?

Li Taiyan: The new century has come! New ideas, new language, new morals, new science, new culture! Everything in the new century is new! I can really feel the pulse of this new society! One thing is certain. I live in an era of immense change. And I’m precisely this era’s kind of new youth. We are creating history as we destroy the old world and herald in the new world. We are so fortunate to have been born during such a magnificent time!

Zi Zhou: I’m so very, very confused! During the first few years of this century, everything seems to point to danger. So, very, very dangerous!

Li Taiyan: I’m so very, very excited! During the first few years of this century, everything seems to point to a miracle of humanity. So, very, very marvelous!

Music plays. Images representing different decades of this century are projected on a screen. Ling’er slowly gets up. She seems to be a bit more alert. Ling’er walks forward from the back of the stage.

Zi Zhou: That was a bunch of morning glory. Their fragrance pervaded my childhood.

Li Taiyan: That was a candle lit in an adorned boat on South Lake.[6] I often hoped for and imagined its illumination of China’s future.

Zi Zhou: That was a piece of scorched earth from the Marco Polo Bridge in 1937.[7] It was saturated with the fresh blood of the Chinese and Japanese.

Li Taiyan: These are cheers heard in front of the Gate of Heavenly Peace in 1949. The cheering resounded through the heavens.

Zi Zhou: This is a “big character poster” from the Cultural Revolution in 1966. The person whose name is crossed out in red never had the chance to make it to the new century.

Li Taiyan: This is a stinky egg from 1989. It made its world debut in an art exhibition in the national gallery.

Zi Zhou: This is one cent in 1999. It has already become worthless.

Li Taiyan: This is a newspaper from the first year of the 21st century. It proudly declares that China has entered its most glorious era in the country’s history.

Zi Zhou: There’s an ideal in my life. It’s called Ling’er. She is so pure and beautiful.

Li Taiyan: There’s a dream in my life. It’s called Ling’er. Everything I do is so she can become happy.

Ling’er: I’ve traversed a century. So many people like my innocence and beauty, but no one can give me fortune and happiness.

Act 2
Dawn of the 21st Century: The Internet Revolution

The “New Youth Internet Company.”

Stage is dark. Music plays as the stage is transformed into a modern day setting.

Li Taiyan rushes on stage.

Li Taiyan: Faster, faster, faster! Get rid of the “One-night stands, Jokes, and Dao Lang” in the website banner and replace it with “New Youth” Internet game. [8] Haven’t you seen? Our “New Youth” Internet game is already ranked number one in the search engines! Hurry and update the “New Youth” Internet game homepage and all of its content. Haven’t you noticed all of the new weapons, new social coteries, new political parties, and new leaders? Haven’t you seen how this game has spread in cyberspace fucking faster than SARS and the tsunami[9] Faster, faster, faster! We’ve got to unveil Version 3.0 as fast as we can. This game will be the top headline in all the news columns—society, entertainment, sports, and finance! It will become the first Internet game ever to control the top of the charts—all just by easing our minds and gratifying our desires. The true era-defying and century-crossing revolutionary age has finally arrived!

Mei Dakan directs several editors to change “Jokes, Dao Lang, and One-night Stands” in the pop-up window to “New Youth Internet Game” and “Search for Father Movement.”

Mei Dakan: Taiyan, the “Search for Father Movement” has gotten things backwards. They say that in this new century it is we who have made our father get lost. Isn’t that strange?

Li Taiyan: Father’s lost?

Mei Dakan: It means that the “spiritual father,” “cultural father,” and “moral father” of society is lost. Without mainstream values, this era lacks traditional heritage. An age that’s missing a father.

Li Taiyan: Who is the angry youth who did this?

Mei Dakan: You know him. Our community’s teacher—Confucius Zhou.

Zi Zhou shouts out while carrying Ling’er on his back.

Zi Zhou: Whoah! I’m exhausted!

Mei Dakan: Look, he appears just as soon as we say his name.

Li Taiyan: It really is Zi Zhou. What happened to Ling’er?

Zi Zhou: Hurry and find a place for her. Let her first sleep a while and then get her something to eat.

Li Taiyan: Hurry, tell us what’s wrong with Ling’er!

Zi Zhou: Aren’t you the CEO of the “New Youth” Internet company? I’ve come today to settle the score. Ling’er played your company’s game for eight days and nights in an Internet bar. Right before she passed out, she dialed my cell and then gave it to the boss.

Mei Daka: (handing him some water) She was playing the “New Youth” Internet game?

Ling’er suddenly wakes up. The cell starts to ring.

Ling’er: First occupy the streets! Surround the presidential mansion! Then seize Duan Qirui [10] and you’ll win the game! What? You must be kidding! We’ve been stopped! The student leaders are all in Dongzhimen eating hot n’ spicy crawfish?[11] Call them back!

Ling’er runs over to the side of the stage, playing the game while eating and drinking.

Mei Dakan: She’s really in top form! Just like a true fighter!

Zi Zhou: You think this is good?! My ass. Do you know how many Internet-philes there are just like Ling’er? These toys have stolen their souls. They’re fixated on the Internet, as if high on grass. They distance themselves from their family and friends. And hand pile after pile of bills over to those irresponsible and immoral Internet companies and their dense spider web-like network of Internet bars. Don’t you feel even the least bit ashamed of yourself?

Li Taiyan: Not that again! I’ve already told you how we are creating a new way of life—an opportunity—a platform for achieving one’s ideals. This is the ground-breaking achievement of the 21st century. It’s let dreams come true for countless people within this cyberspace game world. Don’t you know? People affirm their values and prove their greatness with the click of a mouse! Just look at the click rate and the search engine rankings. Our game is always at the top! Do you know what being ranked number one means? It means that our game has already become a necessity of daily life. People need this alternative simulated space in order to realize the values and ideals that they can’t make happen within reality. People need this game!

Zi Zhou: What if such superficial things all become necessities?! If people refuse to live in reality, what will happen to society?

Li Taiyan: Zi Zhou, you’re out of the loop. Get with the times! You really don’t have a clue about our Internet game. My buddy Mei, please explain the rules of the game to our teacher and comrade Zi Zhou.

Mei Dakan: Sure thing. Zi Zhou, please first take a look at the game’s diagram “May Fourth Era of the New Youth.”

Three giant charts are unveiled and illuminated.

Mei Dakan: First, this is the chart of the game’s simulated environment. The game’s environment simulates the days of 1919. As soon as you enter the game, it’s as if you go back in time to that era of revolutionary fervor and heroes who “vigorously pushed ahead”! [12] You know the social environment of that time—rule by warlords, despotism, corruption, poverty, political strife, foreign incursion, imminent crisis, etc. The poor had nothing to eat while the rich were afraid of getting sued. Government officials feared the bombs of foreign powers, while the intellectuals supported revolution. In a nutshell, people all throughout society were discontent. This is the game’s basic simulated environment. One word sums it up—chaos! But all of this chaos also creates opportunity. Heroes emerge out of chaos. Anything becomes possible. During such an era of chaos, you lose if you lack ideas, lack resolve, or lack willpower. You lose if you dare not to imagine the possibilities, dare not to take the bull by its horns, dare not throw yourself in harm’s way!

Li Taiyan: Come on, get to the point!

The “class relations” chart is illuminated.

Mei Dakan: This is a chart of the social structure and class relations. You must first identify your social position by choosing an occupation, which is the same as to say, choosing your ideal. For example, you can choose to be a businessman, capitalist, cadre, warlord, writer, or gangster. But most players choose to lead the masses by forming gangs, cliques and then political parties. This is the only way to integrate all of the ideals. Just think, if the political revolution you organize succeeds, then you’ll get everything in the world—money, power, military might, status, and fame. Then, the world is at your fingertips.

Li Taiyan: Mei, don’t get so worked up!

Mei Dakan: Whatever! Shall I continue? If you organize a party, then you must choose a doctrine—libertarianism, republicanism, anarchism, opportunism, socialism, so on. Anything goes, just as long as the doctrine is able to dupe the masses into following you. Then you must rely upon this ideology to deceive your base. (Li Taiyan glares at him.) No, what I really mean is to attract those comrades who share a common mission with your Party so as to achieve those ideals that will make the world a better place. At first, you’ll need to get students to boycott classes and workers to strike. If this fails, then you can try pillaging and assassination, such as leading your troops into guerrilla warfare in the countryside. Do whatever is necessary to succeed! You have a single objective—overthrow the reactionary Beiyang government! [13] The Beiyang government will try to suppress you, and if you are captured, then you’ll be tortured—hot pepper water, “tiger stocks,” and bamboo spikes—if you survive, then you’ll get extra points![14] You must also prevent other Parties from undermining you, driving you out, framing you, and crushing you! And there’s more! You also get extra points for setting up newspapers and magazines to demonstrate that you are the era’s intellectual vanguard, which will be greatly beneficial to the growth of your Party’s influence.

Li Taiyan: Tell him how the points are calculated.

The chart of points is illuminated.

Mei Dakan: This is how you earn points. Please take a look at this point chart. You start the game with a score of 100 points. That’s enough to eat for five days. During the first five days you must locate those comrades who share your mission. If you fail at this, then you’ll have to enter a different group. In the end, you must be associated with both a class and a group. You earn 1000 points for joining a group. Each week this group will give you an allowance, but this may not be enough to live off of. If another group offers you more, then you can defect and join another group. Of course if you only rely upon this one group, then you’ll have to find a job or risk starvation. In sum, it is extremely treacherous, just like the social environment of the May Fourth era, so your capacity and wisdom to survive are critical. If you are one of the century’s extraordinary people and a true leader, then you can organize your own social organization or political party. You rack up an extra 100 points for each person who joins. Fifty new members bump you up a level. With each new level, you get 10,000 more points. When you get more than 10,000 party members, you’ll have crossed classes. With 100,000 party members, you become a leader. Then you’ll have the power to issue orders to everyone, taking command over the history of society’s development.

Ling’er suddenly wakes up starts getting worked up, though she’s still in a semi-conscious state.

Ling’er: We are this century’s new youth. We are like the early spring, the morning sun, a newly sharpened blade. We must perform surgery on this rotten society! We must excise its putrid tumor! And transfuse it with the new blood of science, democracy, and freedom! Only then will there be hope for us!

Ling’er takes a bite of something and drinks some water.

Ling’er: Our “Four Seasons Youth Revolutionary Party” stops at nothing. We’ll overthrow feudal despotism, feudal scholar-tyrants, and overthrow the feudal kingdom!

The stage becomes quiet.

Mei Dakan: Maybe they’re protesting now?

Zi Zhou: Nonsense! Only you would think of this! Simulating the New Youth Movement and the revolutionary enlightenment of the May Fourth era in cyberspace! Treating it all just like a game! You even scheme and play at politics to rack up points and earn bonuses! This totally commercializes and blasphemes the May Fourth era!

Li Taiyan: You’re right. This is a boon bestowed upon us by the technological progress of modern society! Even without national indignation in today’s world, we can still experience political strife! Even without bona fide weapons, we can still experience the cruelty of war! Even without a real crisis, we can still achieve the ideals for which we aspire! Even though we were born into another era, we can still experience that great age of the past.

Mei Dakan: Our motto is—”Life is but a game; a game is the same as life!”

Li Taiyan: Yes, it is a game of revolution; a life of revolution! Let revolution enter the market and sell like a commodity. This is a great social revolution! This game is perfect for society’s angry youth, discontents, and those with pent up ambitions and desire to leave their mark on history. This game can satisfy any desire you may have for revolution, politics, leadership, destruction, hooligans, mobsters, romance, as well as those certain private desires. And this game is inspired by a profound philosophy!

Zi Zhou: Bullshit! You are simply a bunch of loons and fanatics who are simply deluded by revolution!

Li Taiyan: No. We are rational thinkers and strategists. We want a society filled with passion. We need a perfect society. This is the ideal of the new generation of youth. It is we, the youth, who are creating this new society. Now we live in the Internet era, the high-tech era, the era of the middle class era, the era of prosperity!

Zi Zhou: Is that so? Don’t you feel scared, threatened, and lost standing at the intersection of such a great new epoch? It’s clearly worshiping the West, yet it’s called going global. It’s clearly a savior, yet it’s mocked as a fool. It’s clearly architectural garbage, yet they call it cutting-edge art. It’s clearly corruption and embezzlement, yet they call it cutting-edge reforms. It’s clearly legalized financial deception, yet they call it investment in stocks. It’s clearly extortion, yet they call it renovating dilapidated housing. It’s clearly tax evasion, yet he’s still standing on the flower-adorned stage. It’s clearly a crass, lame flick, yet they call it a milestone in Chinese cinema. He’s clearly a fake know-it-all, yet everyday he’s on TV preaching about the economy?

Li Taiyan: I agree with what you are saying, but these historical details simply aren’t important. What matters is that technology and the Internet will bring greater freedom to our society. Only with freedom can society get any better.

Zi Zhou: A free society? Sure, that’s exactly correct! With the Internet, you can find any person in the world in less than eight minutes. You can find materials on any company in the world in less than nine minutes. We can use our computers to overthrow a small African nation in less than ten minutes. Eighty percent of the world’s wealth can be withdrawn in less than eleven minutes. The electronic switches for all of the nuclear bombs can be turned on in less than twelve minutes. The era of “doing whatever one so desires” has arrived. Celebrate the freedom of the human race!

Li Taiyan: Zi Zhou, the world is not as scary and dangerous as you say. Even if these things become even filthier and more unbearable, it still won’t stop this era from becoming a great one!

Zi Zhou: The 21st century will be a great century? It will become a great era? Yes, yes! The post-industrial society, the post-modern society, the information society, the third wave, the era of economic globalization, the IT era, the genome era, the nanometer era! Go on and use the most fashionable, the most beautiful, the most affecting language to describe that imagined society and future! But don’t you feel even more perplexed and unsettled? Our material lives are getting better and better, but our spiritual lives are getting shallower. People are getting smarter and smarter, but the arts are getting more and more uninspiring. The economy is getting more and more prosperous, but politics is getting more and more corrupt. People are living longer and longer, but the value of people is getting cheaper and cheaper. Transmission of information is getting more and more advanced, but people’s emotions are getting more and more distant. Social status is getting loftier, but our behavior is getting more and more base. While technology is improving, our morals are vanishing. There is no way to have the best of both worlds. As soon as the bad stuff has been taken care of, then the good starts to become bad.

An Shilai fervently claps his hands and enthusiastically shakes Zi Zhou’s hand.

An Shilai: Genius, genius! Your speech only doubles my enthusiasm! You really are a genius of a leader. The new youth of the Internet era, who will become the new era’s internet stars and leaders, are just like the rash youth in those days.

Zi Zhou: Who is this? Where’d this clown come from?

Li Taiyan: I don’t know.

An Shilai: Oh, me? I’m a top player of the New Youth internet game—a famous chairman of the libertarian association and military weapons supplier. From the Internet I’ve learned about your great reputation and the political party you lead, and I can’t tell you how much I admire you. In today’s turbulent times, a time in which heroes will emerge, you are even better than a lighthouse’s signal within the dark, a giant hand that moves the clouds aside so that the sun can be seen within the dark sky. Days of brightness and the great era are upon us. A hero of our era will be selected to become the leader to create our future. This era has selected you. Mr. Du Xiu, congratulations! [15]

He enthusiastically shakes Zi Zhou’s hands once again. Zi Zhou treats him with a dismissive attitude.

An Shilai: Although your reputation is already illustrious in the new youth Internet game, you are still one small step away from being a true leader. You know what you still need? Not intelligence, not charisma, not faith, but weapons, the most advanced weapons, FAMAS automatic rifles, HE Grenades, automatic artillery, and Patriot Missiles. I’ve got whatever you need.

Fig.3: A weapons supplier promotes his goods to players of the New Youth Internet game.

Fig.3: A weapons supplier promotes his goods to players of the New Youth Internet game.

Zi Zhou: You have anything else?

An Shilai: Yes. I have the most attractive political doctrines, ten thousand each. I have the cheapest and most loyal party members, five hundred for one. Ten gets you wholesale price, and I throw in the Rolodex of a high official with top security clearance.

Ling’er rushes from the back. She hands An Shilai a wad of cash.

Ling’er: I want weapons!

An Shilai: Pick the ones you want!

Ling’er dives behind An Shilai’s weapons supply case and begins to arm herself.

Zi Zhou: I see you really know how to do business. But it’s too bad for you that I’m not the Mr. Du Xiu you say I am. This pretty girl, however, is the Mr. Du Xiu you are looking for!

An Shilai: (rather awkwardly) Could such an innocent and lovely girl really be an all-powerful leader? I bow down to her. But all “new youth” players are welcome to buy the weapons or get the people they need. Everything’s 20% off—there’s no better deal!

Zi Zhou: Oh, that’s great. Do you have many revolutionary girls in your libertarian association!

An Shilai: Lots of them!

An Shilai takes out a strip of pictures of beautiful girls.

Zi Zhou: Are they good at making revolution?

An Shilai: Real good!

Zi Zhou: I see! I want everything. I heard “May Fourth Movement,” the new version of new youth, will be sold on the US stock market next year. Its market price has to be at least 2 billion. He’s the boss of this game. Do you want him to get you some stock options?

An Shilai hands his business card to Li Taiyan. Li gives him a sausage in return.

An Shilai: (righteously) What do you mean by this? “May Fourth Movement” is a serious game. It is revolution. It’s beneficial. I was just trying to help everyone to develop their revolutionary troops so they can realize their own great ideals. I also have my own ideal. Revolution isn’t simply taking others out to dinner. Revolution is far from being a face filled with pleading smiles. I just don’t buy this mumbo jumbo about public stock offerings, stock options, and revolutionary girls?

Li Taiyan signals to Mei Dakan. Mei Dakan carries An Shilai away.

An Shilai: I solemnly do inform you that the revolution is pure; the revolution is selfless; the revolution is vital! I’ve got weapons; I’ve got talent; I’ve got resources! If you want to become a leader, then you must work with me!

Ling’er: What about my weapons!

Ling’er runs after him.

Several people who are marketing Internet games enter.

A: “Comprehensive Attack Plan for the New Youth Internet Game!” If you buy this attack plan, you can master the game in just three months. The first month you can organize 20 class boycotts and labor strikes. The second month you’ll reach a total of 200,000 party members. The third month you’ll have an army. The fourth month you’ll overthrow the Beiyang Government’s authoritarian rule. The fifth month you’ll silence all competing parties. The sixth month you’ll become a world renowned leader. Upon becoming a bona fide leader, you’ll receive a certificate that you can take to the “New Youth” office to receive a reward of one million!

B: Here ye, here ye. Why do you want to play the “New Youth Internet Game?” It’s so old. In our new “Eight Year War of Resistance Internet Game,” you fight the Japs and take back the Diaoyu Islands. [16] It’s the most realistic Internet game; you’ll be addicted just like that. Prize money totals two million, and it even teaches patriotism too!

C: His is no good! Our latest “Cultural Revolution Internet Game” adopts the colossal and turbulent Cultural Revolution as its historical backdrop. By playing this game you can experience its social upheaval, including the cultural and military struggles. You can even experience what it’s like to be condemned as an ox-demon and snake-spirit and get a taste of a struggle session. To make sure history doesn’t repeat itself, please play the “Great Cultural Revolution Game.” Prizes total three million.

D: Father’s lost! Father’s lost! I’m a licensed agent of the “Father’s Lost Movement.” We help anyone who doesn’t have a father or who has lost his father. We provide various services, all of which are related to fathers. If you think it’s taking too long to find your father, then you can order one directly. We guarantee great quality at a low price. If there’s a problem with the quality, then you can return or exchange it. We sell retail or wholesale, we’ve got them all!

E: Theirs are all no good! Mine . . .

Ling’er rushes on stage and grabs the advertisements from the salesman. Everyone becomes silent.

Ling’er: Give them all to me!

Ling’er signals for them to leave, and they all exit.

Stage darkens. Lights shine on Zi Zhou and Li Taiyan.

Zi Zhou: Revolution has become a tradable commodity. May Fourth has become a commercial product. Passion is weighed on a scale. Ideals are hawked at discounts. Even the War of Resistance and the Cultural Revolution have been tuned into games. What kind of society is this? Is this your commercial society? Is this your market economy? Is this your free society of the Internet?

Li Taiyan: Father has a wholesale price too. Don’t think you alone can hide from this society’s reeking money!

Zi Zhou: This confirms what I have heard. The future is not as beautiful as we had imagined, or rather, it is not the least bit beautiful at all.

Li Taiyan: With all of this fighting, we actually just hope for a future worth waiting for.

Zi Zhou: Perhaps the future is not worth waiting for at all.

Li Taiyan: I’m an optimist. You’re a pessimist. But we are both idealists.

Zi Zhou: I don’t think father is lost. He’s dead.

Li Taiyan: You can’t say this, Zi Zhou.

Zi Zhou: Then what should I say?

Li Taiyan: Think it over carefully. In this type of society, the people whom you just met, you perhaps don’t like, but are you able to say who is bad and who isn’t? They simply want to survive. They haven’t done anything wrong.

Zi Zhou: Then who’s wrong? Us? Society? Or were we just not made the right way?

Li Taiyan: We don’t have a common set of values.

Zi Zhou: My “search for father movement” calls precisely for common values.

Li Taiyan: I understand a little about what’s happened. That old father, who was overthrown, resulted in the defeat of traditional values. We never became a new father, so a new value system never developed. This has resulted in chaos and sin.

Zi Zhou: Yes, that’s right.

Li Taiyan: (excitedly) Zi Zhou, I’ve got a proposal.

Zi Zhou: Go on.

Li Taiyan: Let’s create an ideal world in Cyberspace.

Zi Zhou: Make another Internet game?

Li Taiyan: No, Zi Zhou, stop your search for father. You can be father this time, or rather, God. Within Cyberspace you will create an ideal society, where everyone is content with their lives and work, where everyone is always happy and prosperous.

Zi Zhou: Yes, no one is worried there. No one is discriminated against and everything is fair. Everyone can follow their heart’s desires.

Li Taiyan: Yes. There we can plan the tomorrow of humanity, the future of the world.

Zi Zhou: Great.

Li Taiyan: Great! Then that’s the plan!

Act 3
Creating the New Century-The Ideal World

Scene 1: Creating the New Century

The stage is filled with commotion. Li Taiyan directs the others to build out of various materials a modern installation that expresses a primitive feeling. This installation, with various moveable parts, can change into vast fields, cityscapes, palaces, thatched huts, school houses, battlefields, etc.

Li Taiyan: (shouting out orders) Zi Zhou, you are now a so-called all-powerful God. You must not let us down. Don’t fiddle around. Whatever happens, you must not give up.

The stage becomes quiet for a brief moment. Li Taiyan mumbles.

Li Taiyan: Zi Zhou, never forget that you are human.

Li Taiyan exits. All of the televisions are turned on. As the set changes, a metal cage descends from above. Zi Zhou, uneasily, sits within. Zi Zhou uses a joystick to control a computer that manufactures the dolls.

Zi Zhou: “Earth emerges from the primordial chaos; heaven and earth are formed. Pure, light gas rises to form the heavens. Heavy and impure gas solidifies to form earth.” [17] We can’t leave out this part about the creation of the earth and heavens. The sun, moon, stars, myriad creatures, and earth are all newly formed. We just need to sign up for a basic environment. We’ll break all of the rules of creation. I’ll first create a woman—large eyes, large mouth, small nose, small breasts, long hair, long legs—and not to smart. That’ll do. Go on! Go on and play!

A woman slides down from the Slide of Creation. She nonchalantly moves about her hands and feet, then turns around and asks Zi Zhou.

Girl: Hey, what’s my name? What’s your name?

Zi Zhou: Oh, I almost forgot. My name is Zi Zhou. No, call me Master.[18] You . . . Your name is Ling’er.

Ling’er: Yes, master.

Zi Zhou gives her a bumper car. Ling’er drives off, happily.

Zi Zhou: What are my dreams again? Oh, yeah, to be a respected teacher with thousands of students. It’s so tedious making one at a time. I’ll first make four and then clone them.

He uses the computer to make four people. Four actors slide down the slide.

Zi Zhou: You are Smart. You are Dumb. You are Brave. You are Lazy. Okay. Go on. Go and play.

All: Yes, sir.

Smart, Dumb, Brave, and Lazy each drive away in a bumper car.

Zi Zhou: We still need an enemy. That would make their lives more fulfilling and meaningful. It would also make me seem more powerful. Okay. Your name is Youda. [19] Okay, go on. Go and play!

Youda: Okay, sir.

Youda looks like a peasant as he gets into the car carrying a basket of apples. He hands an apple to each of the others around him.

Zi Zhou: (looking on in bafflement) What’s going on? What are you doing?

Youda: Sir, this is a snack for the students.

Zi Zhou: From where cometh those apples?

Youda: The trading market behind the mound of yellow earth.[20]

Zi Zhou: Has life started?

All Students: Now it has started.

Zi Zhou: (as if deep in thought) Just started . . .

Smart: (reporting) Sir!

Zi Zhou: (startled) What?!

Smart: (reporting) We, your students, lack understanding on numerous matters.

Zi Zhou: Please explain.

Smart: I’ve planted 10 mu of wheat, caught hundreds of fish, and built an eight-room house. But what is the purpose of life?[21]

Dumb rams into Smart before she can finish speaking.

Dumb: (happily, reporting) Sir! Just as I started to harvest the wheat, I lost two fingers. Before catching even one fish, I swallowed several vats of water. Six rooms were built, but half of them collapsed. Sir, how are we to live this kind of life? You must teach us a few tricks to help us get by.

Brave rams into Dumb before he can finish speaking.

Brave: Sir, these past few years, I unexpectedly cometh upon a tiger. We met head to head and started battling it out. The tiger failed to meet my challenge and took flight. Despite having killed this ferocious tiger, I’m still clad in rags and wanting in victuals. I know not why I killed the tiger. Please, sir, advise.

Before he can finish speaking, the other students ram into Brave, pushing his car into the left side of the stage.

Zi Zhou: What’s gone wrong? Lazy, is there any chance your life is better? Do you have the same problems?

Lazy: Sir, my life’s just fine. In any case, just as long as they’re working hard, I have nothing to worry about. I’m just too lazy to even eat.

Zi Zhou calls his students over to the Ferris wheel. The Ferris wheel starts to rotate, and each student gets on one at a time.

Zi Zhou: Come over here! I’ll teach you a few principles about life. Please turn to page one of the textbook. Dumb, I’m talking to you. Stop whispering. Let’s first study “Strive for morality, act with virtue, rely upon benevolence, and refine yourself with the arts.” [22] This phrase means that people should behave in accordance with the era’s trends, upholding integrity. You should live with benevolence. Read along with me: “Strive for morality, act with virtue, rely upon benevolence, and refine yourself with the arts.”

Fig.4: The androids learn Confucian maxims while riding on a Ferris wheel.

Fig.4: The androids learn Confucian maxims while riding on a Ferris wheel.

Zi Zhou goes to the center of the Ferris wheel.

All: (rotating their heads around to the rhythm of the recitation) “Strive for morality, act with virtue, rely upon benevolence, and refine yourself with the arts.”

Youda: Sir, what does “benevolence” mean?

Zi Zhou: Strive for benevolence by disciplining oneself and restoring social order. Selflessly devote oneself to love. In handling your behavior in the course of your lives, you “must not look at anything without proper behavior, must not listen to anything without proper behavior, must not say anything without proper behavior, and must not do anything without proper behavior.” [23] Repeat after me.

All: “Must not look at anything without proper behavior, must not listen to anything without proper behavior, must not say anything without proper behavior, and must not do anything without proper behavior.”

Youda: Then what does “ritual” mean?

Lazy: (raising his hand) Sir, Youda keeps interrupting your instruction. It’s very disrespectful and he should be punished accordingly.

Brave: Let me!

Zi Zhou: Stop this. You all need to calmly listen to me. (Everyone quiets down.) In our lives, we should all work hard to become a person with knowledge or with benevolence. Recite after me. “Those with knowledge are happy. Those with benevolence enjoy longevity. Those with knowledge are dynamic. Those with benevolence are calm. Those with knowledge love water. Those with benevolence love mountains.” [24]

All: “Those with knowledge are happy. Those with benevolence enjoy longevity. Those with knowledge are dynamic. Those with benevolence are calm.”

Smart: (interrupting their recitation) Sir, Dumb read “Those with knowledge are in the East; those with benevolence are in the West.” He intentionally distorted your meaning. In accordance with his action, his tongue should be cut out.

Dumb: Mister, your student didn’t do it on purpose. But because Smart has been giving me seductive looks, my mind became distracted, and I ended up reciting the wrong words. Smart is blaming me, but this happened only because I was ignoring Smart’s attempts to seduce me.

Others: (yelling) Gay! Gay!

Zi Zhou (impatiently) Stop this commotion! Go on!

All: “Those with knowledge are happy. Those with benevolence enjoy longevity. Those with knowledge are dynamic. Those with benevolence are calm.”

Ling’er: (lets out a screeching shout) Ah!

Zi Zhou: What now?

Ling’er: Sir, serve as my witness. Someone touched my ass. (sobbing) Sir, I have been sexually harassed each day since the first day you created me. At first I was inclined to just grin and bear it, but after a while, I simply could no longer keep it to myself.

Zi Zhou gets down and stops the Ferris wheel from rotating.

Zi Zhou (angrily speaking to everyone) What’s going on now? Huh? Tell me, how can your mouths spout “benevolence, loyalty, truth, and virtue,” but then you partake in this unruly mischief. What are you really trying to do?

Youda: My dear teacher, I have something to report.

Zi Zhou: Hurry, tell me.

The Ferris wheel starts rotating again.

Youda: Sir, Ling’er and Dumb have shacked up together. I heard they’d soon tie the knot. I was rather displeased, so I wanted to fight it out with Dumb. I thought Ling’er and I could get back together. But when I sent someone to investigate, it was discovered that Ling’er had secretly absconded with Brave. What’s even more frightening is that Brave and Ling’er were secretly planning to revolt, seeking to overthrow Dumb’s political power. But by then, Smart had already established a “doomsday cult” with great influence and secretly contacted me. They had me lure Brave and Dumb out of the city for dinner. As soon as I got the two of them, I followed the impulse to sharpen my knife. But since I’ve always been a coward, when the moment arrived, I couldn’t go through with it. Instead, I just reported this to dear teacher. (kowtows)

Zi Zhou: (no longer able to control his anger) Fuck! I fucking created you so you could take part in such insolence?

Silence. Lazy comes forward from among their ranks.

Lazy: Sir, something else has not yet been mentioned. I don’t know whether I ought to say it.

Zi Zhou: (impatiently) Go on, tell!

Lazy: Since dear teacher with great omnipotence and omniscience created this world, why not just satisfy the myriads’ material and spiritual desires? Then you needn’t enforce the emotionally-draining and energy-sapping rules of the game. All you need to do is give the order with a flick of your wrist, and then humanity will have all that it desires and be filled with great delights!

Youda: As my fellow disciple has noted, our dear teacher created and instructed us. Why not let us live better and obtain the ultimate happiness? Since dear teacher’s pocket is filled with happiness, why not give some to humanity, sparing us from the misery of purgatory?

Zi Zhou: (pondering a moment, hesitating) Indeed this is all possible, but this has all become so dull.

All: We beg you.

Zi Zhou: (as if he’s made up his mind) Okay, I’ll give you whatever you want.

Brave gets off of the Ferris wheel and kneels down next to Zi Zhou.

Brave: We want plenty to eat.

Zi Zhou: Everyone’s stomachs shall be replaced with ever-lasting batteries. You will never again have to be bothered by hunger.

Lazy gets down from the Ferris wheel; his back leans against Zi Zhou’s shoulder.

Lazy: Sir, you know that life’s toil has already become an unbearable burden for humanity. If everyday we hadn’t any obligations but went about life carefree and happy, then life would be so much better!

Zi Zhou: Okay, I’ll make some robots to take care of the things you don’t want to do. All that’ll be left for you to do is to say “Hi.”

Smart gets down from the Ferris wheel and rests his chin on Zi Zhou’s shoulder.

Smart: Beloved teacher, you should know how very important money and power are for a man.

Zi Zhou: You needn’t say another word. My army is for you to command at will, so you can satisfy your vanity and ignorance.

Youda somersaults over and crawls between Zi Zhou’s legs.

Youda: Sir, I have but a single desire in my life. Only love is making my heart break. If you can bestow Ling’er upon me, without upsetting anyone else, then I would be eternally indebted to you.

Zi Zhou: Who else likes Ling’er? I’ll clone one for each of you. It’s my duty to see that you get love and happiness.

Ling’er pushes them all down. She teasingly sits on Lazy’s back side.

Ling’er: Sir, this little girl has just a small request. I only want my looks to topple cities, to be as rich as a queen, as wealthy as a king, and better yet, also be a movie star, famous among Chinese all throughout the world.

Zi Zhou: It embarrasses me to be overly concerned with women. Go on and sink into dissipation if you so desire. And you, Dumb, why haven’t you said anything?

Dumb: (raises his head, looking like a poet) Sir, your student has been a guerrilla fighting for revolution his entire life. From philosopher to wandering poet, from vagabond singer to film director, from a reporter for a smalltime paper to an expert hacker, your student has freely roamed the world, unscrupulously acting just as I pleased. What is life all about? Just one word—”freedom.” I await master’s blessing.

Zi Zhou: I really had no idea. Even Dumb wants freedom. What possible reason could I still have not to give it to you? Go on, go on and follow your desires. I would never have thought that Dumb would also have this kind of ideal.

All: Sir, I also want to follow my desires.

All: Why only let Dumb follow his desires?

All: That’s not fair. We also want to follow our desires!

Zi Zhou: Everyone stop shouting!

They stop shouting. The music starts. The “real” Ling’er appears at the back of the stage.

Zi Zhou: Ling’er?

Ling’er slowly walks over until she’s in front of Zi Zhou.

Zi Zhou: Ling’er, tell me what you want. I have everything. Ling’er, I have everything.

Ling’er: I want myself.

Lights off. Music stops.

Scene 2: Following Your Desires

Lights on. Zi Zhou is sitting by himself in the Ferris wheel. He suddenly opens his eyes and shouts.

Zi Zhou: Ling’er . . . Ling’er . . . Ling’er . . ..

Li Taiyan enters. Zi Zhou stares at him, fear in his eyes.

Li Taiyan: Ling’er’s lost. No one can find her. There’s no sign of her either in reality or in Cyberspace. She’s disappeared.

Zi Zhou is quiet.

Li Taiyan: Say something. Don’t you like her? Why aren’t you speaking?

Zi Zhou: I can’t give her anything. There’s nothing I can’t do, nothing I can’t have, but I still can’t give her anything.

Li Taiyan: Ling’er once said to me, she didn’t have any goals or ideals for life. She never waited for the future and never regretted the past. She lived only for the present. She just wanted to be happier, yet never dared to daydream about happiness.

Zi Zhou: I can. I’m able to create happiness. I can.

Li Taiyan: But I’m not even happy.

Zi Zhou: Ha! Isn’t technology the solution to everything? I can clone, copy, and create a Ling’er who is even more beautiful!

Li Taiyan: You know nothing can possibly replace Ling’er. We have to look for her. No matter what, we must find her.

Zi Zhou: (shouting) Ling’er!

Li Taiyan exits. Ling’er enters.

Zi Zhou: Ling’er!

Ling’er: Ling’er is here. Sir, what are your orders?

Zi Zhou: I didn’t call you. Ling’er!

Ling’er: But I clearly heard master call for Ling’er.

Zi Zhou: Yes, Ling’er is lost. Ling’er!

Ling’er: Sir, am I not right here? I’m Ling’er.

Zi Zhou: Ling’er is lost. Hurry, hurry and find Ling’er. Ling’er! Ling’er!

Enter all.

All: How terrible! Ling’er is lost. How terrible! Ling’er is lost. Ling’er is lost!

Dumb: Hey, isn’t this Ling’er?

Ling’er: I don’t know why. Master sees me with his own two eyes but still says I’m lost.

Smart: Where should we go to look? What does she look like? Where was she lost? But isn’t the key that Ling’er is right here?

Youda: If master says she’s lost, then she’s lost. She’s lost even if she’s not lost. If he asks you to look, then go and look.

They all drive off in different directions in their bumper cars. Youda walks up to Zi Zhou.

Youda: Master shouldn’t worry so much. Your health is the most important thing.

Zi Zhou: My heart will never be at peace until Ling’er is found.

Youda: Your student has already finished writing a proclamation to the world. Many are qualified to solve this case. Ling’er will be found in no time at all.

Zi Zhou: Although your method may be clichˆm and unseemly, it’s okay just as long as it can find Ling’er. I don’t know how the search is coming along?

Youda: Dumb has turned himself into a national leader, and he has already unrolled a national “Search for Ling’er Campaign.” People all throughout the country have been mobilized—conducting a small exercise every three days and a big exercise every five days. Everyone must pass muster by conducting a “painstaking investigation” and every worthwhile lead must be examined. The uncooperative suspects have been detained, and a few have even been handcuffed and beaten. A few leads on Ling’er’s whereabouts have been obtained. It has become even more well-known than the “search for father campaign.”

Zi Zhou: But you don’t want it to get out of hand and get blown out of proportion!

Youda: It won’t.

Zi Zhou: What about Brave?

Youda: Brave is really as swift as a lightening bolt. As soon as he received your instructions, he immediately dispatched the army, swearing to dig his heels in and find Ling’er. But burning, killing, and pillaging have all been reported.

Zi Zhou: Relay the following to Brave. He must strictly abide by military discipline, strengthen education, dispatch propaganda teams, and promote military discipline.

Youda: I even noticed these problems. I wrote a military song about them, and now things have improved.

Zi Zhou: What about Smart?

Youda: I was just getting ready to tell you. According to a top secret intelligence report, Smart is secretly training the world’s most elite Special Task Force. As soon as someone else finds Ling’er, he’ll dispatch this Special Task Force to clandestinely kidnap Ling’er. This guy’s really rather lame. He just knows a few tricks. I’d rather just ignore him.

Zi Zhou: Don’t worry. He’ll sink. I’ll take care of him. Let’s hear about what Lazy’s up to?

Youda: Lazy is the most despicable. He lazes around the house all day. Can you believe what he’s been doing? He invited a fortuneteller to make predictions based on birthdays, spinning a compass, and reading horoscopes. He says he’s already predicted Ling’er’s coordinates.

Zi Zhou: What nonsense! Simply nonsense! What about . . . what’s her name?

Youda: You mean our Ling’er?

Zi Zhou: Yes, that girl.

Youda: Poor Ling’er. She’s gone crazy.

Zi Zhou: What happened?

Youda: Ling’er just can’t understand what’s going on. She keeps saying: am I not Ling’er? How can they still be looking for Ling’er? It doesn’t make sense to her. She says that master doesn’t like her and wants to find another girl to replace her. Everyday she wonders and wonders, but she still can’t understand. So she’s gone crazy.

Music. Ling’er rushes on stage. A countless number of “Ling’er’s” run about the stage, and the scene turns into a chaotic frenzy.

Stage dims.

Stage is lit. Li Taiyan enters.

Li Taiyan: Zi Zhou, what’s wrong?

Zi Zhou: Chaos, chaos, chaos! Just one word: Chaos! There’s no hope. It’s really terrible.

Li Taiyan: Zi Zhou, don’t give up. Everything will get better.

Zi Zhou: It won’t. It just won’t. I want to destroy it with my own two hands.

Li Taiyan: Destroy what?

Zi Zhou: Destroy this world.

The words “destroy this world” echo several times. The stage darkens.

Scene 3: Judgment Day

Stage is lit. “Destroy this world” continues to echo. Everyone is listening intently. Suddenly it is interrupted by a loudspeaker.

Loudspeaker: Citizens, citizens. All citizens, please gather at May Fourth Square. Citizens, citizens. All citizens, please gather at May Fourth Square.

Music starts. There’s a long table. Twelve people sit down, one at a time, at the table. The seat in the middle is empty. Sitting around the table are Smalltime Boss, Unemployed Worker, Prostitute, Rock Singer, Movie Star, Cadre, Hooligan, Doctor, Soldier, Teacher, Reporter, and Artist. An Shilai is also among them. They pose as if in Da Vinci’s painting “The Last Supper.” Music stops.

Fig.5: Society is put on trial on Judgment Day.

Fig.5: Society is put on trial on Judgment Day.

An Shilai: (looks like Satan) Just now you all heard it. God is summoning you. No, it is Master who is summoning you. Our world is about to be destroyed.

Teacher: I didn’t hear anything!

Unemployed Worker: I didn’t either!

An Shilai: You? If you had, wouldn’t you then be prophetic?

Smalltime Boss: Then how do you know?

An Shilai: Because I was sent by Master.

Prostitute: Then you’re prophetic?

An Shilai: Right on the money, my dear. A prophecy has been circulating throughout society.

Emcee: The image of an old man disappears amidst tidal change; the millennial manor collapses one morn. Skilled artisans build a flying machine that heads toward the West to never come back.

An Shilai: That’s right. You’ve all heard this prophesy before. The first two sentences refer to time. The second two sentences refer to the mode of destruction. Got it? One year, we still have one more year.

Teacher: I still don’t believe it. There’s no scientific evidence. If you compare the life of the planet with that of a human, then the history of humanity is only a single second at noon.

An Shilai: Then you’ve never seen ghosts singing all day long, animals coming out of their cages each night, demons and goblins filling the heavens?

Reporter: That’s right. Children with red and green hair are running all over the streets. If they’re not ghosts, then what are they? So many people stay in their homes during the day and aimlessly stroll about at night. Their habits have all changed. If they’re not animals, then what are they? Psychosis, Aids, Mad Cow, SARS, are spreading out of control, if not demons, then what are they?

An Shilai: Humanity’s time has come. Think about why this is happening to you.

The Smalltime Boss stops stuffing his face with food. With his mouth stuffed full, he stands up and looks all around. He seems a bit frightened.

Smalltime Boss: (feeling wronged) I’m just a smalltime boss. My net value is only a million, and I’ve got only a few mansions. Though I’ve evaded taxes and have a mistress hidden away, I’m still an upstanding citizen who lives life to its fullest, poses as a person of high morals, and never forgets to stimulate demand for domestic consumption. In my final days, I just want to be together with my family and enjoy the most beautiful final moments of life.

Unemployed Worker: How unfair! Unfair, I say! I’ve just started to walk along life’s open road. My career has suddenly come to an end. I haven’t yet put my hands on the finer things in life. I’ve only had one wife in this life. Why do I have such an unfair fate? Why is my life so short and fleeting? I want a revolution. I want to get even. I want to eliminate all that is unfair in this world right up until my very last breath.

Movie Star: I’ve acted out death so many times. I’m sick of dying.

Prostitute: (firmly) I’ve lived more than twenty years without a single regret. I believe that when this world comes to an end, I’ll be the last one to happily leave this world. In my next life I’d be willing to once again serve as man’s “godfather.”

Unemployed Worker: (standing up again, speaking to Smalltime Boss) If you can’t spend all of your money, then I can help you deal with this concern.

Teacher: What kind of world is this? What kind of world?

Prostitute: (speaking to the Unemployed Worker) If the day really comes, I can give you your last taste of humanity!

Soldier: (speaking to everyone) Really? Really? You’re not kidding?

Artist: To die with this lot is so fucking degrading! I’m an artist! I’m the elite of humanity! I request special protection! I want eternal life!

Reporter: Ladies and Gentlemen! She is that famous movie star Ms. Zhang Xiaolan.[25] On the eve of judgment day, we’ll ask her to talk about her feelings right before her death.

Movie Star: The Imperial Ancestral Temple will be equipped with a camera. My life’s last moments must be broadcast live to the entire world.

Hooligan: I won’t die! I refuse to die! I’ll do whatever it takes to stay alive!

Teacher: Leader, please speak up!

Everyone becomes silent.

Cadre: What’s more frightening than chaos? What’s more important than stable unity? Perhaps this is just an exercise—a simulated show of the earth’s destruction.

Rock Singer: After the world has been destroyed, music will still live on! We’ll finally sing the world to its grave with our great rock music!

The music gets louder and noisier. Zi Zhou darts out from among those who are thrashing about.

Zi Zhou: (violently bangs the wine glass onto the table, speaking loudly) This is all a lie! This century’s most absurd lie!

An Shilai: (banging the table) This is a prophecy. A great prophesy! The world is about to be destroyed. Each person’s judgment is about to begin, no matter whether you are a great person, an insignificant person, a noble person, a despicable person, rich or poor, revolutionary or homosexual, it makes no difference—your lives are all finished! Since the day the world was created, its fate was determined by a conspiracy. This is the playing out of fate, the choice of time. The clock’s hand of destruction is already pointing at us!

Zi Zhou: (laughing out loud) Let me wash your feet. Let me give you all some cookies. (throws them at An Shilai) You seem the most like a traitor to humanity! You are certainly Youda’s descendant!

An Shilai: My fellow countrymen, my friends, you shouldn’t speak so lightly about treason and lies. Society’s rules no longer exist. There is no longer any difference between high, low, noble, base, and the rich and poor. Social morality has degenerated. We don’t believe anyone. We don’t obey anyone. It’s time for you all to die!

Prostitute: That’s right. The more filthy and chaotic, the more we want steamy stimulation!

The Prostitute reaches out and fondles An Shilai’s body as she speaks.

An Shilai: (dodges out of the way, awkwardly, his face blushing) Stop! You disgusting bitch! What are you? You’re a prostitute! You’re a gutter for humanity’s desires! You’re a pitiful bundle of flesh fated to rot and reek! Die! Die!

An Shilai becomes more and more bombastic.

An Shilai: You! A soldier, partner in crime, political fodder, a hand that slaps around the face of humanity! Legal assassin! Die! Die! What a pity that this time there will be no one to mourn for you! No one will erect a monument for posterity! You! Pathetic poor man! Revolutionaries, those idealists, will write you a blank check! You pathetic bugs! The abandoned children of humanity! At the end of the century, you, the only ones whose hearts are filled with gratitude and aspirations, will die! Die! And you teacher, who commands respect from others and is known as the transmitter of human civilization! But please just open your eyes. Is this the civilization that you have transmitted? War, scandal, and disease! It would be better to teach humanity more about birth control! And you! Chatterbox of a reporter! A creep from whom no one can hide! The world’s magnifying glass! The idiot who joyfully reports the end of the world! You still haven’t reported the news that God has come to earth and the century’s judgment has started! Are you a cadre or a politician? You don’t want to have a meeting to discuss the order of your deaths. Shall we just decide who dies first based on the number of strokes in your name? And you, lovely film starlet! Mind-numbing bubble created by mind-numbing humanity! So beautiful and glamorous! No need to wait until the apocalypse. Be careful or my fart will blow you to pieces! You, rich person, who has profited greatly from society, an idiot who only has a goal but has no ideals, with death on your heels, what are you thinking now? I’ve got a green card to the universe. You want to buy one? You, they say, are a doctor to cure all diseases. Can you even cure yourself? Put away your fast-acting heart-saving capsules, and instead give everyone bogus cure-alls or Viagra! Pervert! A pervert afraid of nothing! You are truly life’s great warrior. Perversion has become the banner for your livelihood. Perversion is your ideal and life goal. Die! Die! Go get perverse with God! Oh, I could never forget you! Our beloved artist! Who feels superior to others but is utterly useless! You who created a ridiculous mummy or compact disc that symbolize humanity’s selfishness and stupidity, quietly floating in the universe’s evening sky, awaiting future archaeological discovery and research by intelligent life forms. (speaking to Zi Zhou) And you! With murky origins! Who are you? Who agreed to let you sit in this seat? This sacred seat is reserved for our Master. Get him out of that seat!

Zi Zhou: Stop. An Shilai, you are the scoundrel that plagues humanity in each historical era. You are a deceitful spokesperson, a spokesperson whose spiritual opium makes people vomit. A bastard who hides behind a coat of prophecy. I am Master. I am the prophet. I am your creator!

An Shilai is at first stunned but then starts to laugh.

An Shilai: Ha! Ha! If you are a prophet, then I am God! If you are the Creator, then I am Father of the Heavens. Ha! Ha!

Everyone laughs; Zi Zhou is angry and speechless.

An Shilai: (taking out a book) Ha! Ha! Although I’m not a prophet, I am the messenger of a prophet. I am the true defender of humanity and civilization, the creator of Noah’s ark. In this book Judgment of Humanity at the End of the World, you will each find your atonement. Read, come and pray and give money. In here you can each find who you really are and your secret path to escape from calamity.

Everyone gathers together and surrounds An Shilai, grabbing for the book.

Zi Zhou drinks one glass of wine after the next.

Zi Zhou: (suddenly screaming): Ling’er!

Everyone stops making a commotion. Ling’er appears at the back of the stage.

Zi Zhou: (deeply impassioned) Look! Here there is so much sunlight. Here there is so much moonlight. Here there are so many feelings. Here there are so many problems. Ling’er, here there is so much music. Here, no one is smoking. Here, no one has as much time as me. Ling’er, I love you. At the moment of the world’s end and humanity’s destruction, I want to hold you so very tight. Do you know? Ling’er, I just hope that at that moment your eyes will have a teardrop and a lock of hair will press against your forehead. Music will be floating in the heavens. That’s all I want. Ling’er, come here. What are you so concerned about? Why are you mourning? Here, no one is smoking. Here, I’m the only who has got time. Come here. I want to be with you.

An Shilai: (walking over to Zi Zhou, pushing the others out of the way) I really have spaceship tickets to blast out of the universe. You can take your Ling’er and leave this terrible world. As an old pal of yours, I can give you a five percent discount.

Ling’er walks over from the back of the stage. An Shilai stares straight at her.

Everyone: (squeezing over) How about us? How about us?

Zi Zhou: Ling’er, I have finally found you. Come over. Let me hold you tight.

An Shilai: (eyes glued on Ling’er) No problem. In addition to life-saving boat tickets, my pocket also contains the most pure happiness. Come, come. I can give it all to you for free.

Ling’er is beckoned away.

Zi Zhou drops to the ground as if in a drunken stupor.

Everyone gathers around groping about.

Scene 4: Humanity’s Omen

The lights change.

The Fortuneteller enters carrying a notebook computer.

Fortuneteller: (turning on the computer, reading in a very lively manner)

During the season in which rivers freeze over,
Under an enormous shadow,
A child falls to the ground.
It seems like a sound rings out,
So beautiful to the ears.
Suddenly, a bird flies over,
Crossing the path of infinite gazes,
Disappearing into the dark heavens.

Upon hearing someone speak, Zi Zhou gets up from his stupor.

Zi Zhou: That’s so bad. Really bad. That’s a poem? Then even a cat could publish a volume of poetry.

Fortuneteller: (tinkering with the computer) Don’t be anxious. This verse imitates the medieval European style. Here, here, I’ll show you a 14-line poem or a modern Misty School poem. I’ve also got Mandarin Ducks and Butterflies School poetry. This is the prophecy software I invented. Believe me, it’s super fast at producing vernacular poetry!

Zi Zhou: Nonsense! Computers are imbeciles. How can they tell the future?

Fortuneteller: Of course they can. Listen, “I softly leave you, please wipe away your tears.”[26] Hey! That’s not right!

Zi Zhou: (gloatingly) You can make predictions up to which year? What’s going to happen?

Fortuneteller: (filled with confidence) Listen to this. “Life is like a great dream. Why must we labor so hard to survive! Therefore, everyday we drink till drunk and forlornly lie down beside the column.” [27]

Zi Zhou: Why does that sound so familiar?

Fortuneteller: “As soon as you awaken, you see in front of the house, a bird chirping amidst the flowers.”

Zi Zhou: Fuck! This is Li Bai’s poem! You said it’s your own!

Fortuneteller: Oh, I screwed up! This software has been filled with bugs recently.

Zi Zhou: If you are really prophetic, then tell us straight: What is the month and day when a million bucks will fall from heaven? What is the month and day when you’ll do the dirty deed with alien chicks in space? What is the month and day when the planet will play with its balls? Just don’t fool us with this poetry!

Fortuneteller: You just don’t get it. This is modern technology. I entered all of the important events and people from the history of our planet’s civilization and all of the important archeological and geographic materials and data into this software. It can form 3-d charts that change into greater complexity, automatically playing out our fate as well as the entire world’s fate.

Zi Zhou: Bullshit. How large would such a computer need to be!

Fortuneteller: We start first with just a part of it.

Zi Zhou: Then, you mean, the season in which rivers freeze over?

Fortuneteller: This is a time—winter.

Zi Zhou: A child falls to the ground?

Fortuneteller: This is an event, perhaps a small country is subjected to a secret plot.

Zi Zhou: A sounds rings out, beautiful to the ears?

Fortuneteller: This explains the background to this event. The voice of the people’s opposition causes the earth to shake.

Zi Zhou: Or you can explain it like this: some old kid is running and then tumbles down. I’m next to the kid providing the accompaniment. Who are you trying to pull one on over?

Fortuneteller: Poems have multiple meanings. The problem of symbolism’s uniqueness hasn’t yet been solved.

Zi Zhou: (extremely impatient): Forget it! What kid fell to the ground? What sound is so beautiful? Last century my father was lost. This century just started and my Ling’er is lost. I ask you, where is my father? Where is Ling’er?

Fortuneteller: Okay, I’ll see.

Zi Zhou: I ask you one more time: when will ethnic conflict come to an end? When can a cure for Aids be found? When will China’s stock market climb to ten thousand points? When can mankind reach the stars? Can we ever fulfill our many childhood dreams? (Zi Zhou becomes more and more animated as he speaks; he suddenly stops) What have you predicted on the mark? Tell me—Did you predict the war with Iraq? Did you predict the Tsunami?

Fortuneteller: Don’t worry.

The Fortuneteller is busy working on the computer for a while.

Fortuneteller: (reading) The image of an old man disappears amidst tidal change; the millennial manor collapses one morn. Skilled artisans build a flying machine that heads toward the West to never come back.

Zi Zhou slowly takes out a wrinkled piece of paper from his pocket. It is an old pamphlet. He unfolds it.

Zi Zhou: (reading, startled) The image of an old man disappears amidst tidal change; the millennial manor collapses one morn. Skilled artisans build a flying machine that heads toward the West to never come back.

A spaceship flies across above the stage.

Zi Zhou: Wait! Tell me are you a Fortuneteller in real life or from the computer?

Fortuneteller: Of course, the one from the computer.

Act 4
After the Century – Spiritual World

The set changes to the real world.

Zi Zhou: (despondently) Taiyan, my world’s destroyed.


Taiyan: No, our world is destroyed.

Zi Zhou: What about my Ling’er? It seems like I just saw her.

Li Taiyan: (shaking his head) Zi Zhou, you need to rest. Now you can’t distinguish between which world is real and the world in cyberspace.

Zi Zhou: Ling’er?

An Shilai leads the two of them on stage.

An Shilai: The world never had any significance. Humanity must face the cruel reality.

Li Taiyan: What are you doing?

An Shilai: Don’t be like this. There’s nothing you can do even if you hate me. My work and the one whom I love are here.

Zi Zhou: (shocked, as if he’s realized something) What? What are you saying?

Ling’er appears at the back of the stage. She dances wildly, shaking her head, in the spotlight.

An Shilai: Do you see what I brought?

Zi Zhou: What?

An Shilai: I brought news of Ling’er. She came looking for me when she was looking for happiness. She wanted to receive atonement.

An Shilai takes out a small bottle of medicine.

Zi Zhou: (realizing suddenly) That’s cocaine. You’re a drug dealer.

An Shilai: Taiyan, Zi Zhou, that stuff is obsolete now. What I am selling is not cocaine, not drugs, but what humanity seldom experiences—happiness. Are you happy? You aren’t happy. Fine, well, I’ve got happiness. And I never haggle over the price. I’ll take whatever you got—money, flesh, and even worthless ideas—I can exchange them all for happiness! Am I not truly amazing?

An Shilai throws away the bottle of medicine, snaps and turns around the “Exhilarator.”

Li Taiyan: What’s this?

An Shilai: The Exhilarator! Mr. Li Taiyan, all you need to do is hook yourself up to it, and you can experience any feeling in the world. For instance, if you feel like eating a fresh strawberry, you will instantly taste a fresh strawberry, a little sweet yet sour. So incredibly real! This helmet can get you to totally fulfill any and all the ideals you may have about humanity. Hey, do you want to know what the luxurious lifestyle of the British royalty feels like? Do you want to feel what it’s like to be a celebrity cheered to by lots of fans? Do you want to know what it feels like to jump from Mount Everest? This invention enables you to experience all of this, just like that. What’s more, its safety and reliability are 100% guaranteed. It was rated Grade A across the board in each of 108 trials. Each and every experience feels entirely life-like. There are two words that are used all of the time to sum up the experience—happiness and good fortune. Please have a look at the trial report.

An Shilai hands a report to Li Taiyan.

Li Taiyan: (flipping through the report) Has all of the technology glitches been worked out?

An Shilai: This technology’s greatest difficulty is actually a problem with connecting the equipment to a person’s brain and nervous system. This problem has already been solved. This type of technological connection is very simple. For a doctor, it is merely a simple micro-implant. Currently everything is all ready to go but we still need investors.

Li Taiyan: Okay. I’ll invest in it. I’ll manufacture it on a large-scale. I’ll sell at cost so that each person can have an “exhilaration helmet.” Zi Zhou, our ideal is soon to be realized. Each person will be able to whatever it is his or her heart desires. This is a really amazing thing.

Zi Zhou: This is not a good thing.

Li Taiyan: Zi Zhou, you really disappoint me. Humanity needs this. Humanity has developed for these thousands of years looking for precisely this thing, so we should immediately prepare to manufacture it.

Zi Zhou: (suddenly a bit schizophrenic) No, it is the Devil!

Li Taiyan: No, Zi Zhou, it is called “happiness.”

An Shilai: Taiyan, we must speak the truth. Next we are going to conduct the 109th trial.

Ling’er is ushered on stage. She jumps into the helmet.

Zi Zhou: No, Ling’er. Don’t do this. That is the Devil!

An Shilai: Come, my dear, stimulate your desires. Food, drink, play, fun. The greater and stronger your desires are, the more wonderful you’ll feel. Okay, tell me, what do you want the most in this world?

Ling’er: (loudly) Money! Money can get you anything you want!

Images of money appear on the screen, followed by images of extravagant and dissipated lifestyles. These images are accompanied by Ling’er’s melodramatic screams.

An Shilai: Good, tell me, what is the present that you want the most?

Ling’er: (loudly) Stars, an infinite number of stars!

On the screen, countless stars, like gemstones, circle around Ling’er.

An Shilai: Then go ahead and do the thing that you want to do the most.

Ling’er: (loudly) I want to be the world’s greatest singer, Madonna. I also want to make love to Michael Jackson!

The revelry of a large crowd is accompanied by powerful music and horrific, loud cries of pain. Madonna’s moaning is seen and heard in her images and music. Ling’er becomes more and more excited.

An Shilai: How’d it feel?

Ling’er: She is this world’s least fortunate person. Might as well be a pig.

Images of pigs are seen lazing about, idly basking in the blissful sunlight and soothing music.

An Shilai: Think of the person whom you love the most in your life.

Ling’er is suddenly silent. Music starts.

A close-up of Zi Zhou appears on the screen. The image burns or dissolves out. Then a close-up of Li Taiyan appears before burning or dissolving out. Next, An Shilai’s image appears, and then burns or dissolves out. Next, the faces of many different people appear, flashing upon the screen at a faster and faster rate.

Ling’er: (wildly shouting) Aaaaaah!

Amidst the commotion, Zi Zhou walks over to the machine.

Li Taiyan: Come over here, Zi Zhou. Come and fulfill your ideals, your dreams. Come, get what you’ve never had. Come, get what you’ve always wanted?

Suddenly, the stage is silent.

Zi Zhou: (shouting out with deep emotion) Father!

Documentary footage of the “May Fourth Movement” is shown on the screen.

The actor’s emotions and actions gradually change into images on the screen that symbolize the desires of modernity. As the rate at which the images flash upon the screen increases, the music also becomes louder and more wild..

The images on the screen become all jumbled together and then implode. The music explodes into a final climax. The lights turn the stage a bright white before suddenly going out.



All endnotes have been added by the translator and do not appear in the original script.

[*] Based on the 2000 version of the play New Youth. First draft finished in the early morning on February 20, 2005. Second draft finished in the early morning on March 1, 2005. New Youth is the first play in the “Trilogy of Ideals.” I would like to thank Hang Cheng for facilitating this translation, in addition to Zhang Nan, who generously reviewed the translation, and Xu Xiaohong, who also provided valuable assistance.

[1] The surname Kong alludes to Confucius.

[2] The Twenty-One Demands were presented to China’s President Yuan Shikai by Japan in January 1915. The ultimatum demanded that Japan take control of Germany’s territorial possessions in Shandong, in addition to claims over Manchuria and Mongolia and control over China’s coal industry, as well as military, commercial, and financial affairs. Treaties were signed though never ratified by the Chinese legislature, in part due to mass protests. However, in 1917 at the Versailles Conference, Japan was awarded the former German concessions in Shandong. China refused to sign the Versailles Treaty. At the Washington Conference (1921-22), Western powers compelled Japan to withdraw its troops from Shandong, but Japan’s road toward domination and colonization of China had already been preliminarily paved.

[3] Government officials who were condemned in post-1949 textbooks as traitors for acquiescing to Japanese demands.

[4] Cao Rulin’s residence was located on Zhao Jia Lou Boulevard, near the Foreign Ministry in Beijing.

[5] These are the names of influential articles published in the journal New Youth.

[6] The first plenary meeting of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was initially held in July 1921 in a girls’ school in Shanghai, but to secure greater secrecy, it was moved to a boat on South Lake in Zhejiang province.

[7] The Marco Polo Bridge is the site of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident where a battle between Japan’s Imperial Army and China’s National Revolutionary Army marked the official beginning of China’s War of Resistance against Japan (1937-1945).

[8] Dao Lang is a pop singer who gained fame in 2004 for his remakes of Xinjiang folk songs. The playwright suggests substituting the Internet banner words with popular buzzwords from the time and place of the performance.

[9] Referring to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in China in the spring of 2003 and the series of deadly tsunamis triggered by an earthquake in the Indian Ocean on December 26, 2004 that devastated countries in South and Southeast Asia as well as impacting countries on Africa’s east coast.

[10] Appointed by Yuan Shikai’s cabinet as minister of war in 1912 and became premier in 1916 following Yuan’s death. Duan Qirui was blamed for capitulating to the Japanese demands at the end of World War I, namely, allowing the Japanese to set up military posts in Shandong Province and mortgaging income from railroads that Japan planned to build in Shandong.

[11] Dongzhimen became a popular destination in Beijing in the 1990s, especially amongst trendy, young adults, to eat crayfish boiled in a fiery, hot pepper broth.

[12] This is a well-known phrase from Mao Zedong’s poem “Qinyuan Chun, Changsha” (1925).

[13] The Beiyang Government refers to the government based in Beijing from April 1, 1912, when Sun Yatsen offered the presidency to Yuan Shikai in Beijing, and its sixteen years of control by warlords who claimed the presidency. The period is usually considered to have ended when the warlord Zhang Zuolin withdrew from Beijing in June 1928 when the Guomindang (Nationalists) under the command of Chiang Kai-shek took control of Beijing.

[14] Common methods of torture traditionally used in China and adapted during China’s Civil War. Their continued use in China today is occasionally reported on in the media.

[15] Chen Duxiu was a reformist intellectual who in 1915 founded the journal New Youth, which was the major mouthpiece for revolutionary ideas. Chen became one of the first members of the Chinese Communist party in 1920.

[16] Diaoyu Islands, called the Senkaku Islands in Japanese, is a small, uninhabited island group located in the East China Sea. The islands belong to Japan’s Okinawa Prefecture but are also claimed by China and Taiwan. The dispute over their possession is sill a source of regional tension.

[17] These lines come from a traditional Chinese creation myth.

[18] The use of this title alludes to Confucius.

[19] A transliteration of the Biblical figure Jude.

[20] Symbolizes China’s early civilization.

[21] Mu is a measurement used traditionally in China for land. Approximately 6 mu = 1 acre.

[22] From the Analects of Confucius, Book 4. The “arts” in the Analects refer to ritual, music, archery, calligraphy, driving a carriage, and mathematics.

[23] From the Analects of Confucius, Book 6.

[24] From the Analects of Confucius, Book 3. The minds of those who seek knowledge are always active and therefore flow like water. Those who seek benevolence are not easily disturbed and are as stable as a mountain.

[25] This is the name of the actress who played the role of the movie star in the performance. The playwright notes that this name can be replaced with the name of the actress in the stage performance.

[26] Lyrics from a pop song performed by Taiwan’s pop icon Qi Qin.

[27] From the poem “On Spring Intoxication” by Li Bai (618-907).