fulbright Taiwan online journal

fulbright Taiwan online journal

Author: Joshua Stenberg 石峻山

Joshua Stenberg 石峻山
Josh Stenberg is a doctoral candidate at Nanjing University, working on various forms of xiqu. In the year of 2014-2015, he is a Fulbright grantee at the National Taiwan College of Performing Arts. 

Me and Howard Go to See the Puppets and Almost All of Them Die

        I am a little late because Connor has taken me to UNIQLO to buy some kind of padded jacket–call it turquoise–I am bad with colors. Taipei winter is exacting vengeance on me for mocking it (“it’s like spring back home!”) by inflicting a lingering sore throat. The winter sun is heatlessly ablaze as we skitter ably through traffic, mirthful but cold: I tell Connor that Howard knows I will be a little late, he doesn’t have to rush across the intersection; but Connor is not thinking about me or tardiness. He has his own goals, is rushing to try and achieve traffic nirvana, the pulsing freedom where you hit every traffic light just so, what the Germans call the green wave. I think how every now and then the old desire to dress properly seems, for a moment, attainable; the new beginning! Taiwan will turn me into a cleaner man, will teach me sartorial rectitude. Progress towards that mirage: adulthood, maturity—the codes of which are always obscured by travel, by abrupt changes in climate, language, milieu, context—and which, like all ideals, get only vaguely approached, inclined towards, and never achieved. Whenever I say “I am getting my bearings,”

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Feeble Men and Double Bodies: Du Shiniang at the Metropolitan Hall Theater

What is it about the feebleness of men in traditional Chinese theater? The emperor stands by, saying nothing and looking apologetic, while his councilors suggest that it would probably be for the best if his beloved concubine were to kill herself. The scholar Xu Xian stumbles over himself, trying to escape from his loving wife, White Snake, whom he has betrayed to a monk. Once she arrives, mournful and angry, he bad-mouths the monk and re-pledges his love. Not to mention all the scholars who run off to attend the imperial exams and forget about their wives, or the long-suffering courtesans who supported them. The women are left sitting at home taking care of the scholar’s parents, starving, choking on rice husks. And after his parents have died, they beg their way to the capital to find him, at which point they are imprisoned in mills or banished into remote servitude by the relatives of the scholar’s new wife. Or maybe a letter is forged, telling them they are abandoned, and they throw themselves in the river. Thank God for a woman with a backbone: in Du Shiniang at Taipei’s Metropolitan Hall theater, we had in a single forty-minute scene

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Research & Reflections

fulbright taiwan online journal