The President's Invitation, originally directed by Professor Lyu Xiaoping and written by Wen Fangyi, is one of the most influential original modern Chinese plays in recent memory. Set in 1943 in Chongqing, China's wartime capital during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945), The President's Invitation introduces three notable Chinese literature and language scholars, whom Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek (who led the Kuomintang-run Republic of China and was president of National Central University) had invited to his Lunar New Year's Eve gala. But for our three academics, Chiang's invitation is not merely a polite gesture, but represents a moral quandary. Indeed, could a group of professors who embody the antithesis of Chiang's heavy-handed rule ever indulge the President? Would they be remiss to reject his invitation? The scholars clash for an entire afternoon over that one question: to go or not to go.
I played middle-aged and elderly Professor Shi Rendao in this play presented by Cornell Chinese Drama Society on two different show days.