Lauded by the BBC as "the best Chinese language playwright and theatre director in the world’, Stan Lai was born and educated in the U.S. After obtaining his Ph. D. in Dramatic Art from the University of California, Berkeley, he returned to Taiwan, his parents’ home, and founded, together with his wife Ding Nai-Chu, the theatre group Performance Workshop. Since then he has written over 30 plays, many of them described as ‘rare works that delicately blend fine art with popular culture.’ His growing influence has extended beyond Taiwan to include Mainland China, Hong Kong and other parts of Asia. One of his plays, Secret Love In Peach Blossom Land (1986) was rated by the New York Times as the most popular contemporary play in China and widely acknowledged as one of the top ten Chinese plays of the 20th century. Another play, A Dream Like A Dream, an 8-hour epic, has been called a landmark in Chinese-language theatre.
The breadth, depth and bold creativity of Lai’s works have transformed the direction, and expanded the boundaries, of theatre in both Taiwan and Mainland China. Many of his plays have become extremely popular and, in China, frequently produced without authorization. Their universal themes, unique performance styles and aesthetic, and visual beauty have become known as the most exciting theatre and ‘boldest Chinese art in Asia today’ (Newsweek).
Lai is the recipient of numerous awards, including Taiwan’s National Arts Awards, Tokyo’s Silver Sakura prize, Berlin’s Caligari prize, and Best Picture, Best Director, and FIPRESCI prizes at Singapore. Recently he was inducted into the Chinese Theatre Hall of Fame in Beijing. In addition to creating and directing his plays, Lai is also a filmmaker and college professor. He teaches regularly at the Taipei National University of the Arts and returns to the U.S. for frequent residencies at colleges and universities. He has lectured widely on creativity and shows that it can be learned through proper methods. Together with Ding Nai-Chu, he is also a noted translator of classic works of Buddhism.
Recently appointed stage director of Dream of the Red Chamber by the San Francisco Opera, his enormous stage successes, wide acclaim, and deep understanding of Buddhism will bring an additional dimension to Dream.