Stay or Go: Li Guoxiu’s Ambiguous Answer to the Taiwan Question

  • John B. Weinstein


Within a decade of the 1987 lifting of Martial Law, Taiwan has rapidly transformed into a multiparty democracy with freedoms forbidden on the other side of the Taiwan Straits. The presence of such a society causes the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to wrestle with the “Taiwan Question”, but the people of Taiwan must wrestle with their own Taiwan Question—“Stay or go?” In 1997, at the end of the first post-Martial Law decade, a poll by the TVBS cable station reported that 25 percent of Taiwan’s population wished to emigrate to foreign countries; a Democratic Progressive Party poll reported more than 30 percent.1 The constant threat of the PRC is one reason for so many wanting to leave, but it is far from being the sole cause. Plenty of dangers abound on the island itself. Ironically, and perhaps irrationally, many of these very dangers make life in Taiwan so exciting. It is in this contradiction between danger and enjoyment that playwright/director Li Guoxiu (Lee Kuo-shiu2) finds humor.


Dengue Fever Theater Movement Movie Theater Taiwan Strait Traffic Fatality 
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  1. 3.
    Li Guoxiu, Sanren xingbuxing I (Taibei: Zhoukai juchang jijinhui, 1993). Part I ran for 29 performances in Taipei and Kaohsiung, between September 25 and October 25, 1987, with 3 additional performance in Taichung and Chiayi in 1988.Google Scholar
  2. See Li Guoxiu, Sanren xingbuxing TV—Changqi wanming, program (Taipei: Pingfeng biaoyanban, 1997), p. 69.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Li Guoxiu, Sanren xingbuxing II—Chengshi zhi huang, photocopy of manuscript, 1988. Part II was performed 40 times between December 17, 1988 and January 27, 1989 in Taipei, Kaohsiung, Tainan, Taichung, and Chungli. See Cai Zhuer, “Li Guoxiu xinong wuye de chengshi”, Zhongguo shibao, December 26, 1988. Li Guoxiu, Changqi wanming, program, p. 67.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Li Guoxiu, Sanren xingbuxing III—OH! Sanchakou (Taibei: Wenjianhui, 1995). Part III ran for 31 performances in 1993 in Taipei, Kaohsiung, Tainan, Taichung, and Chungli. See “Biaoyan”, Xiuxian shenghuo zazhi (May 1993), 148; Li Guoxiu, Changqi wanming, program, p. 65.Google Scholar
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    Li Guoxiu, Sanren xingbuxing IV—Changqi wanming, production script, 1997. Part IV ran from May 14 to June 30, 1997 in Taipei, Taichung, Kaohsiung, and Tainan. See Li Guoxiu, Changqi wanrning, program, p. 3.Google Scholar
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    For a thorough history of the Little Theater Movement, see Mingder Chung, “The Little Theater Movement of Taiwan (1980–89): in search of alternative aesthetics and politics”, (dissertation, New York University, 1992).Google Scholar
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    Wu Wenzhi, “Sanren xingbuxing—Changqi wanming”, Jin zhoukan, 46 (1997), 132.Google Scholar
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    Chen Zhengxi, “Xiaokan aile jiayuan: ping Sanren xingbuxing IV—Changqi wanming”, Biaoyan yishu 60 (1997), 80.Google Scholar
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    Li Guoxiu, Oh! Sanchakou, 35; Li Guoxiu, Sanren xingbuxing III—OH! Sanchakou, videotape, vol. 1 (Taipei: Pingfeng biaoyanban, 1993).Google Scholar
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© Charles A. Laughlin 2005

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  • John B. Weinstein

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