“Liu Ming-chuan” was premiered in 2004 in celebration of the 120th anniversary of the establishment of Taipei City. In 2014, this classic was brought to the stage again in celebration of the 130th anniversary of the Taipei City. A combination of Taiwanese opera and the modern sound and lighting techniques, the story focuses on the character’s soft side to unfold the story of the very first governor of Taiwan, Liu Ming-chuan, from a new perspective.
We are so used to the hustle and bustle of Taipei City. Did you know who installed the very first street light in Taipei 130 years ago?
We are used to taking the high-speed Taiwan High-Speed Rail. Did you know that the train was once called “a monster blowing smoke” 130 years ago?
Synopsis (First Half)
In 1885, Liu Ming-chuan and his nephew, Liu Chao-dai, were appointed to Taiwan, “a tiny foreign area“ by the Qing Government, to become its governor. Liu had ten years of achieving nothing. Was his appointment to Taiwan a promotion or a demotion? With mixed emotions, Liu left home and headed for Taiwan. What had always been on his mind was his mother’s teaching and caring. The head of Taiwan Prefecture, Li Han-min, and his son, Rui-qi threw their weight around, and nobody dared to defy them. However, the appointment of Liu Ming-chuan made him feel threatened. He, thus, tried to block Liu’s wheels. “The Qing-Cheng Troupe,“a Peking Opera Troupe led by Zhang Li-cheng, arrived in Taiwan from Mainland China by ship. The young indigenous people, Ma Sha and Na-Yi-Wa were in the crowd watching the troupe with curiosity. Yet, Li Rui-qi coveted the beautiful Na-Yi-Wa. Fortunately, Zhao-dai saved her, and the two young people fell in love.
Liu Ming-chuan’s achievements, including defeating the French armies in Jilong (now known as Keelung) and handling cases fairly on the streets, won the recognition of civilians. The hospitality of Taiwan made Liu Ming-chuan invest more time and effort in promoting coastal defense and various constructions. What he didn’t know was that his doings accidentally averted unforeseen disasters and accidents – the orphan from Taiping Rebellion, Feng Ling-shuan, came for an act of revenge but was touched by Liu’s broad-mind, calm and collected command. She had fallen for him even before she realized it.
While negotiating and discussing matters related to military and economy with different tribes, Liu Ming-chuan was given a cold shoulder by the Hakka spiritual leader, Luo Tai-sheng. However, after getting to know Liu, Tai-sheng knew he and Liu were “great minds who think alike.” While the two of them were having a great time drinking tea and talking, Liu sensed a familiar pleasant smell. The last thing Liu Ming-chuan expected was to see his childhood sweetheart, Lin Xiang-yin, in a place so far away from home.
Synopsis (Second Half)
The French armies ambushed again after the last defeat more than one month ago but failed again, thanks to Liu Ming-chuan’s and Zhao-dai’s leadership and skills in deploying soldiers. While celebrating, the marriage arrangement of Zhai-dai and Na-Yi-Wa was finalized. However, the leader of Lao Gao, Gu-Lu was jealous of Zhai-dai for being engaged to Na-Yi-Wa. Li Rui-qi incited Gu-lu to steal the bride, which ruined a happy wedding. Losing Zhai-dai, who was like a son to him, Liu Ming-chuan channeled his anger into power to install street lights and cables and establish schools. He practically buried himself in building railways. Feng Ling-shuan dug him. She was considerate and became Liu’s greatest comfort by accompanying him.
Lin Xiang-yin visited Liu to catch up with him as his old friend, but Luo Tai-sheng misunderstood that the two of them were getting back together. Luo’s misunderstanding made Xiang-yin, who was finally expecting a baby, feel sad and angry. Luo later regretted that he was shot from the hip. The scheduled explosion in Shiqiuling for building a road became an opportunity for Li Han-min to eliminate Liu Ming-chuan. Luo Tai-sheng sacrificed himself for his brotherly love for Liu and patriotism. This series of incidents hit Liu pretty hard mentally and physically, not to mention his old wounds seem to be in pain again. As the railways from Taipei to Qi-Long were opened, Liu Ming-chuan also received the first telegraph sent via the undersea cables. When everyone was enjoying the fruitful results of their hard work, the news of Liu’s mother passing away pushed him into the endless darkness.