‘Trump’ in Cantonese opera

Man Chan
Actress Man Chan (right), dressed as Ivanka Trump, helps actor Loong Koon-tin (center), change into US President Donald Trump back stage during a rehearsal of a Cantonese opera called “Trump on Show” in Hong Kong on April 11. AFP/ISAAC LAWRENCE

HONG KONG - A hundred flowers bloom, a hundred schools of thought contend: Donald J. Trump has a long-lost Chinese friend.

Dressed in a black suit, an unmistakable blonde wig and an extra-long red tie, “Trump” is leading a Cantonese opera troupe during a rehearsal in Hong Kong.

In this absurdist drama dubbed “Trump on Show”, audiences watch a mish-mash of current and imagined events including the US president’s meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

A 26-year-old Trump also looks for his twin brother “Chuan Pu”, a transliteration of his name in Chinese, during a fantastical trip to China alongside former American president Richard Nixon, who plays ping-pong with Mao Zedong.

It begins with the current first family moving into the White House.

Ivanka Trump finds Mao’s “Little Red Book”-- a collection of the late communist leader’s quotes and ideology -- full of her father’s handwritten notes, triggering a flashback to Nixon’s famous diplomatic tour of China in 1972.

The sold-out show opens Friday and runs for four days at the Sunbeam Theatre, Hong Kong’s famous Cantonese opera house.

The centuries-old art form usually features ancient Chinese stories and legends, but the latest show gives the genre a modern twist.

Narcissistic characters

“Donald Trump is the most topical person in the world, while Cantonese opera is a forgotten and waning art form. If we can write about him in a play, it will definitely help attract people’s attention to the culture of Cantonese opera,” said Edward Li, the opera’s playwright.

He believes the tweeter-in-chief’s fame will rescue the traditional musical theatre.

Li said Mao and Trump share similar traits, namely narcissism.

“Seventy-two-year-old Mao Zedong started the Cultural Revolution. Seventy-two-year-old Donald Trump is also creating a US cultural revolution. What’s a cultural revolution? That’s when one person overturns all the political systems,” Li told AFP.

The feng shui master-turned-playwright revealed he rewrote the script at least 10 times to keep it fresh.