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    Stuck Elevator: The Super-Heroic Stationary Journey of Ming Kuang Chen (in Opera!)

    By Jennifer 8. Lee | August 7, 2007

    Ming Kuang Chen Opera PhotoMing Kuang Chen — the Chinese deliveryman who was stuck in an elevator for more than three days in 2005 — has apparently become quite the muse for creative artists. A movie script is in development, I’ve heard. I have a whole chapter in my book wrapped around him. And he also has been the solo character of an opera called “Stuck Elevator: The Super-Heroic Stationary Journey of Ming Kuang Chen” which played in Seattle in June of 2006, and is further development. Byron Au Yong is the composer and Aaron Jafferis is the librettist.

    Carolyn Li of The Northwest Asian Weekly (where the photo at the left of Xike Xin as Chen is from) writes:

    In the show, the character of Chen sings a song called “Disappear” while he waits in the elevator. He ponders why no one has found him, when he will be missed and how he exists only because his wife and son need him. “I think viewers will relate to Chen’s emotions and hopes and have a deeper understanding of the hardships and risks people still take to live and work in this country,” said the show’s costume designer, Michelle Kumata, a fourth-generation Asian American. “I relate Chen’s story to my grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ stories of their struggles immigrating, working and surviving in the States in the early 1900s, and the difficulties with culture, racism and language,” she said. “Chen’s story shows that not much has changed in the present day.”

    I actually snuck into the security office to see what was wrong with the security cameras — if anything. They were all completely functioning and you could look right into the elevator he was in (among  a dozen cameras and some were a bit dark). The hourly “security guards” with the clip-on ties didn’t look so incredibly diligent. I did notice that they were eating fried chicken wings and fried rice from the local Chinese take-out.  What I like about the opera is that Ming is wearing a similar jacket, dark blue with and white stripes, as Ming himself was that day.

    Again. It’s interesting to see how delivery men are invisible, as I’ve observed before.

    Topics: Chinese, Fujianese | No Comments »

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