The Paper Dreams of Harry Chin

Synopsis

During the Chinese Exclusion Act, Harry Chin, a Chinese national, entered the U.S. by buying forged documentation. Like other “Paper Sons,” Harry underwent a brutal detention and interrogation, and lived the rest of his life keeping secrets – even from his daughter. Told through the eyes of a middle-aged Chin, THE PAPER DREAMS OF HARRY CHIN reveals the complicated loves and regrets of this Chinese immigrant who wound up in Minnesota. Through dreamlike leaps of time and space and with the powerful assistance of ghosts, the story of the Chin family reveals the personal and political repercussions of making group of people “illegal.”

Quotes/Reviews

  • “rewarding new play "The Paper Dreams of Harry Chin" offers a complex telling of a complex life” Ed Hyuck, Minneapolis Star Tribune

  • “a surreal journey through past and present that is touching, funny, harrowing, confusing—and ultimately worth seeing.” Kip Dooley, Minnesota Playlist

  • “Huang’s superb storytelling keeps us engaged with this complex, and all too timely, tale.” Jay Gabler, City Pages

  • “The play never fails to hold interest, but some scenes soar in their power. One is the interrogation scene as Harry arrives at the Seattle point of entry, feverishly hoping for his "paper son" deception to work. As Harry does not yet know English, we hear the interrogator as Harry does—an outpouring of gibberish, presented as fierce animalistic roars, grunts and whistles, amplified like the powerful Wizard of Oz.” Arthur Dorman, Talkin Broadway

  • It’s easy to remark on the timeliness of this production—with current immigration policy trying to prohibit another specific group from being allowed into the US, its place in the season is almost uncanny. While timely and relevant sound like operable words, it’s more than just that. Stories like this keep repeating themselves and American history is full of them. It’s timely because prejudice and xenophobia never stopped being a problem and because it’s a story we still fail to remember. However, Harry Chin’s will haunt you, just like the ghosts who fill up his kitchen. You won’t be able to forget him once you leave the theater. And, like me, you might walk out feeling hungry—for knowledge, for diversity, for answers, for change.” The Room Where it Happens

Production history

WORLD PREMIERE: History Theatre, Saint Paul MN 2017

TimePieces Play Reading, TimeLine Theatre, Chicago IL 2017

Awards

  • Stavis Award 2018

  • Kilroy List 2017

  • Susan Smith Blackburn nominee

  • Minneapolis Star Tribune Best of the Week