The play is constructed as a mix of reality, dreams, ghosts, and memories - think A Christmas Carol, but less structured. In 1970, Harry Chin (Song Kim) is visited by the ghost of his recently deceased wife, a white woman named Laura (Sandra Struthers), followed by the ghosts of a friend with whom he immigrated (Sherwin Rescurreccion) and (spoiler alert) his first wife that he left behind in China (Audrey Park). Despite his protests, the ghosts get him to remember his past - the difficult decision to leave China for America to make money to send home to his family, the process and effects of being a "paper son" (read more on that here), meeting and marrying an American and starting a new family, and reconnecting with his Chinese family. Harry and Laura's daughter Sheila (Meghan Kreidler) thinks her dad is going crazy, but slowly begins to learn more about his past and family, shaking the foundations of her life.
|Harry Chin confronted by ghosts of his past|
(photo by Scott Pakudaitis)
Playwright Jessica Huang (a Playwrights' Center Fellow) spent a lot of time interviewing the real Sheila about her family's story, and the play comes off as a love letter to her father, but one that exposes the difficulties he faced and the choices he made, choices that led to tragedy, but also to love. The Paper Dreams of Harry Chin is the story of one immigrant who did the best he could with the challenges that faced him and built a life in America, a country that is made up of the sum of millions of such stories.
The Paper Dreams of Harry Chin continues at the History Theatre through April 9.