Trump Bump: Tickets for Cantonese opera about US president sold out

The promotional poster for a Cantonese opera about Donald Trump. Photo via Facebook/Sunbeam Theatre.
The promotional poster for a Cantonese opera about Donald Trump. Photo via Facebook/Sunbeam Theatre.

Maybe you were holding out to see the full Mueller report before buying your tickets, or maybe, like us, you were just too lazy to get online and book them. But whatever the reason, if you don’t already have your tickets for a new Cantonese opera about US President Donald Trump, it looks like you’re out of luck.

According to ticketing website Cityline, tickets for Trump On Show at the Sunbeam Theatre in North Point have already sold out ahead of its four-day run starting on Friday. Which is a shame, frankly, because it sounds like it’s going to be a doozy.

Trump On Show will be performing to a packed opera house when it begins its four-day run this week. Screenshot via Cityline.
Trump On Show will be performing to a packed opera house when it begins its four-day run this week. Screenshot via Cityline.

On Saturday, the opera’s playwright, Edward Li Kui-ming, spilled the beans on the details of the plot.

Although the opera will debut against a backdrop of mounting US-China tensions, with an ongoing trade war and the US’ campaign against Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, Li says that the play will focus less on the current state of affairs, and more the history of modern China — some of it made up, of course.

According to online outlet Quartz, the play opens shortly after Trump’s inauguration, with his daughter Ivanka discovering a suitcase marked “1972, China” containing an English version of Chairman Mao’s famed The Little Red Book.

The opera then dives into a fictional (we presume; what’s in that full report?!) chapter in Trump’s past that saw him travel to China in 1972 — the year another presidential paragon, Richard Nixon, first landed in Beijing and laid the groundwork for normalized US-China relations.

The play goes on to imagine not only Trump encountering Mao and China’s first premier, Zhou Enlai, but also a plot thread involving Trump’s long-lost twin brother who grew up in China, the South China Morning Post reports.

Talk of the fictitious twin brother was first mentioned during a live-streamed interview with Li last week by MATV.

During the interview, Li said he was inspired by the story of Barack Obama’s half-brother, Mark Okoth Obama Ndesandjo, who lives in Shenzhen.

Li said: “I thought, ‘Wow, Obama has a brother who was in China and now speaks Mandarin. What if Trump had a twin brother who was also left in China and looks almost exactly like him and also speaks Mandarin?'”

He said that after finishing the script, he sent a copy to friend and frequent collaborator Lung Koon-tin — who will be donning the blonde wig and fake tan for Trump On Show — who said: “Wow, this play is great! Let’s do this one!”

Li told MATV that he’s on a mission to bring Cantonese opera to the younger generation, and that Trump On Show was the second of three Cantonese operas to feature Chairman Mao.

Li — a feng shui master who also runs the Sunbeam Theatre — is famous for penning the controversial Cantonese opera Chairman Mao, which purports to depict the private life of the founding father of the People’s Republic of China. The play was performed in 2016 to commemorate China National Day and the 47th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, with Lung as Mao, a role he will reprise in Trump on Show.

(Check out the video below to see parts of that opera.)

When news of Trump On Show first came about, netizens were excited that it could open the door for Cantonese operas about other contemporary world leaders, like unpopular former Chief Executive CY Leung, who governed Hong Kong during the 2014 Umbrella Movement; current Chinese President Xi Jinping; and even Russian president and noted Trump man-crush Vladimir Putin.

But speaking to SCMP, Li said he didn’t know whether or not Xi would make an appearance in future works, admitting that he avoided sensitive historical events like the Cultural Revolution and the Tiananmen Square Massacre, saying: “Sensitive issues will always stir unhappiness. As a playwright I want to bring positive vibes to society.”

With tickets sold out for the four-day run, it’s not clear if Sunbeam Theatre will hold reruns of Trump On Show, or if it will include English subtitles.

The opera house did not respond to a request for comment from Coconuts HK as of press time.

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