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Dreamers' Nightmare: The Melancholia of the Taiwanese Centennial Celebration

From: Asian Theatre Journal
Volume 30, Number 1, Spring 2013
pp. 172-188 | 10.1353/atj.2013.0004



Dreamers is a musical written by Lai Sheng-Chuan and directed by Ding Nai-Cheng and Lu Poshen to celebrate the centennial of the founding of the Republic of China on 10 October 1911. With us $7 million in government funds, the musical delivered the government's message of Taiwan's economy's strength. However, Dreamers drew criticism from Taiwanese intellectuals for its arguable interpretation of the origin of Taiwan and its failure to address imperative social issues. Employing Sigmund Freud's and Anne Anlin Cheng's model of melancholia, I examine the title, the story, and the staging of Dreamers to see how this musical discloses that Taiwan, on the one hand, desires an independent national subjectivity and, on the other hand, refuses to fully grieve and let go of the loss of China. The musical Dreamers teases out the complex social etiology behind the phenomenon of national grief and injury.

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