It is the first time that traditional Chinese theater challenged the taboo issue – homosexual love. Duan Xiu takes the audience to explore the true feelings of human beings through a romantic love beyond death that is the purest but beyond one’s control. It is the first time that Yi-Shin Taiwanese Opera worked with the talented director Lang Zu-yun, the famous Kunqu opera artist Wen Yu-hang, musician Chen Le-rong, and composer Shan Feng to create this production that set a new record in traditional Chinese theater: to be requested by the audience to add more shows in the same venue.

After the production was launched, “Duan-Xiu” received positive audience responses and good press reviews, including nominations for the 12th Taishin Arts Awards. Yi-Shin Taiwanese Opera and its lead xiaosheng (young male character), Sun Shi-yong received nominations of the” Performance of the Year” and “ Best Young Artist” for the 25th Golden Melody Awards for Traditional Arts and Music.” In 2018, on the 30th anniversary of Yi-Shin Taiwanese Opera Troupe, Duan-Xiu was brought to the Taipei National Theater. The numbers of how were added four times per requests of the audience.

【First Half】

It was the annual ceremony of the Mt. Phoenix again. Despite his impatience, the extremely gorgeous Dong Xian, after being pampered by his good friend, Di Wu-jiang, agreed to play the role of Goddess Phoenix to pray for good luck and ward off evil spirits. The lavishly dressed young prince of the Ding-Tao Residence, Liu Xin, and his good friend, Shi Dan caught the attention of the local gangsters. Dong Xian, who stood on the high-rising platform, noticed it and saved Liu Xin from a potential accident. With just one glance, and it had nothing to do with sex, Dong Xian was etched on Liu Xin’s mind.

After Empress Dowager Fu was in power, she appointed Liu Xin the crown prince and arranged her niece, Fu Dei-jun, to be Liu Xin’s wife because she planned to use Liu Xin as her pawn. Because of his father’s political considerations, Dong Xian was sent to the palace to be the Counselor to the Crown Prince. His greatest aspiration was to serve his country but was straitjacketed. Yet, his off-the-chart handsome looks made him yearned for by civil officials. Liu Xin and Dong Xian were so close that they were within an arm’s length, but it felt like they were oceans apart. Despite it, at least they could see each other, which somehow comforted them.

Wu Sun from the western region invaded, and the Han General, Di Wu-jiang led the armies to fight the enemies. While the two sides were in deadlock, the emperor passed away, and Liu Xin ascended the throne. Three years had passed, Liu Xin was full-fledged, but he was still been bound hand and foot. Finally, he chose to be out of sight and out of mind. There was finally a turn for better things when Dong Xian captured his heart.

With Dong Xian’s encouragement, Liu Xin tried to take heart, but it was difficult to achieve anything without support. Being with Liu Xian all the time, Dong Xian was happy that the Emperor valued him, not knowing Liu Xin’s affection toward him. There were a few times that things almost were out of control, but they were able to keep it at bay. What they didn’t know was that a tipping point was waiting to happen.

【Second Half】

Dong Xian finally realized how differently Liu Xin treated him. Feeling ashamed and raged, he attempted to kill himself. But despite as the emperor, Liu Xin never forced him to do anything against his will. Instead, he groveled to Dong Xian, asking him not to leave. Liu Xian’s affection for Dong Xian gradually moved the obdurate heart of Dong Xian.

Liu Xin’s love and caring for Dong Xian not only made the concubines in the palace feel threatened but also caused political unrest. Everyone was jittery about it. Dong Xian always managed to keep a clear head and always pointed out Liu Xian’s wrongdoings bluntly. He further made a pack with Liu Xian: the only way for them to be with each other for eternity was for both of them to respect each other. However, that piece of the cut sleeve by his bedside Dong Xian found after waking up finally made him finally let his guard down.

The love between Liu Xin and Dong Xian was like a vine that grew into their hearts, and jealousy only made their love grow faster. Fu Dai-jun and Wang Tian-ba tried to have Dong Xian killed, and they planned to take care of him once and for all during the visit of the representative of Huns. What they didn’t know was that Liu Xin was already sick. His rage only made him too ill to be cured. Dong Xian was battered and expelled out of the palace. The two were parted by death.

It was not over yet. Wang Tian-Ba kicked him while Dong Xian was down. Di Wu-jiang got the news and got himself killed when trying to protect Dong Xian. Before he died, he confessed his love to Dong Xian. In grief, Dong Xian seemed to see Liu Xin smiling at him. That piece of cut sleeve finally drove Dong Xian to Liu Xin.

National Culture and Arts Foundation

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