Comfort by Diana Tso
Comfort is a love story between two teenagers in World War Two China. Dan Feng (Red Phoenix) is the daughter of a silk merchant and longs to go to school to become a writer. Ping Yang (Peaceful Ocean) is an orphan who makes a living as a fisherman and longs to have family. They fall in love through their passion for the Chinese opera, “Butterfly Lovers”, an epic love story about the courage to be the change and the power of redemption.
Dan Feng and Ping Yang befriend each other in her compassion to share her education and books the neighbourhood's kind fisherman, who desires an education to be worthy one day of this beautiful passionate young woman who wants to change the world. They meet secretly in an abandoned house sharing their dreams.
Silk trade with the Japan is soon boycotted by war as Japan’s army continues to invade China starting in the north and moving southwards. To protect his family and his business, Dan Feng’s father betroths her to the son of a powerful Japanese man. On the night before her wedding she takes flight, with some of her dowry, to the city of Shanghai, to escape her marital plight and find a way to support China’s war efforts against Japan.
At a night at opera with her parents she finds a way to meet Ping Yang briefly and break the urgent news to him and her plans to runaway. Unbeknownst to Dan Feng, Ping Yang finds his way to Shanghai and to protect her in any way he can. Dan Feng befriends an old widow on her arrival to the city during the bombings in the summer of 1937. Soon the old widow’s home is taken over by Japanese soldiers and turned into a comfort house where Dan Feng is imprisoned.
A year later when Ping Yang finds Dan Feng, he secures a job as a labour coolie, delivering supplies and food to the comfort houses, to make sure Dan Feng stays alive until he can find a way to help her escape. The play explores the meaning of comfort in war and how one survives the horrors of violence and human degradation, shining light on the resilience of the human spirit. The theatre of the living honours the lives of the dead and those suffering and creates a space for us to heal through the power of art and to find ways to be the change.
Keywords: World War Two, Asia, China, Japan, Korea, comfort women, sexual slavery
Year Printed: 2017
First Produced: aki studio, Native Earth Performing Arts, November/December 2016
Running Time: 90 minutes
Male Cast: 3
Female Cast: 4
4 roles for musicians