"Double Happiness" at MOCA: Behind the Scenes

We're always happy to see our amazing teachers' accomplishments, and we have an extra special treat to share with you today. One of our Chinese teachers, Dennis Yueh-Yeh Li, is directing a hit production of the play Double Happiness at the Museum of Chinese in America!

If you're in New York this fall, this is an event you really don't want to miss. Double Happiness is no ordinary night at the theatre. It's an immersive production complete with a ten-course Chinese meal from Dim Sum Go Go. After a sold-out run this summer, the museum is bringing back the play for an encore run.

In the director's own words, "It is a play that talks about two Chinese families with two different sets of values getting together for a wedding. As the wedding goes on, their conflicts start to unfold. In this production, all the audience members will directly engage with the cast, and will be invited to a traditional Chinese tea ceremony as well as the wedding banquet, with 10 course dinner served!"

In other words, audience members aren't simply audience members. They're wedding guests– and the drama of the evening unfolds around them. Combining two families with their own traditions and values isn't always easy. Will Claire and Alex's wedding be a joyous day for all or a stressful disaster?

Here's a sneak peek of the play!


The Trailer for the Production

We also spoke to Dennis Yueh-Yeh Li about his experiences both as a director and a Chinese teacher! He said,

"What I enjoy the most in teaching Chinese is when I share aspects of Chinese culture with my students, and see how they brighten up. When doing so in class, I feel like a tour guide leading my students to explore a new territory. And it is then up to them to compare, associate, and connect with the culture, and continue to explore on their own. At that moment, they are no longer just learning a tool to communicate, but encouraged to unleash their curiosity and expand their horizon.

"This is exactly like how I work with actors as a director. We often discuss extensively about the characters they are playing. What are these characters’ lives like outside the script? How do their lives contribute to the feeling that they feel and motivate what they do at the certain scenes? After the discussion, actors then continue to explore on their own, show to me what they find, and we make a decision together. Often, actors will continue exploring and find new ideas or inspiration after the show opens. And they will continue adjusting themselves, and find great satisfaction doing it."

For students of a new language, you may feel at first as if you are exploring unfamiliar territory. Like actors, who need their scripts to practice new dialogue, it takes time for language learners to get comfortable. A good teacher can help build a student's confidence and curiosity. It's no wonder that Dennis excels at both.

If you're interested in learning Chinese but are nervous to try something new, consider attending a performance of Double Happiness for inspiration. It's also a valuable opportunity for students to see Chinese culture and traditions in action– not to mention the food!

Double Happiness performances will occur:

6:00 P.M. - 8:00 P.M. EDT, Thursday, September 29, 2022

6:30 P.M. - 8:30 P.M. ET, Friday, September 30, 2022

6:00 P.M. - 8:00 P.M. EDT, Thursday, October 13, 2022

6:00 P.M. - 8:00 P.M. ET, Saturday, October 15, 2022 (closing night)