Excerpts from an Unstaged Ahistorical Play
This selection from the play Lu Xun is from one of the most climactic scenes of the play. It explores the core of the playwright Li Jing’s concept of Lu Xun’s ideals. In this passage, he struggles with the implications of freedom and sacrifice, and the possibility of humanity in the midst of violence and vengeance. All the while, other forces manipulate him for their own goals.
(“DISTINGUISHED MIDDLE-AGED MAN” and “UNSMILING YOUTH” bind LU XUNwith the blood rope and he calms down. The two sit on the ground and open a meeting)
DISTINGUISHED MIDDLE-AGED MAN. Let us discuss a plan of treatment. The material determines the consciousness.
UNSMILING YOUTH. Production capacity deter-mines relations of production.
DISTINGUISHED MIDDLE-AGED MAN. The economic foundation determines the superstructure.
UNSMILING YOUTH. Death by idealism.
DISTINGUISHED MIDDLE-AGED MAN. To save the patient, the disease must be treated, begin with the body! (to the UNSMILING YOUTH) Come, let us treat him together.
(The two stand, loosen the blood rope, and lift LU XUN out of the chair. They take off their white gowns; underneath they are wearing Leninist uniforms. A majestic martial march plays. The rock garden discards their fabric, becoming AH Q, WANG HU, LITTLE D, RUN TU, and a crowd of people who look like laborers. They all march in a formation goose-step following behind DISTINGUISHED MID-DLE-AGED MAN and UNSMILING YOUTH. The two men march forward in step, attempting to show LU XUN how to march in step. LU XUN attempts to struggle free, but they hold him tight by the shoulders, in a loving manner. DISTINGUISHED MIDDLE-AGED MAN marches while he speaks as the martial march softens.)
Mister Lu Xun, marching in formation is the first step in revolution. Hearing and obeying the orders is the first step in formation marching. You must learn to hear the orders. One, two, one. One, two, one. When they shout “One!” you step with your left foot. When they shout “Two!” you step with your right foot. Right. Very good. One, two, one. One, two, one. Column left… March! Forward… March! One, two, one. One, two, one. Ah, wrong! Not on your right foot, your left foot. Again. On “one” it’s your left foot…
LU XUN. Where are you going?
DISTINGUISHED MIDDLE-AGED MAN. To save those who are suffering.
LU XUN. To save those who are suffering. No matter what, this is what I’ve always wanted to do, but never found a way to.
UNSMILING YOUTH. Yes, I know. We walk the same road.
LU XUN. Ah, fellow traveler, I want to go see an old acquaintance. (looking toward RUN TU) I have thought of him often, it’s just that he didn’t know… What about you? Who do you want to go see?
UNSMILING YOUTH. (Marching) I’m not going to see anyone. I don’t recall any person in particular. No one person in particular can compare with my sub-lime goal. This sublime goal is revolution, is progress, is the salvation of the suffering masses.
DISTINGUISHED MIDDLE-AGED MAN. (Marching) To have a revolution, there must be sacrifice.
(The march continues to play as they march on. The YOUTH IN BLACK enters and stands in a pool of light.)
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