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A Winter People, is an adaptation of The Cherry Orchard, folding the pieces of Anton Chekhov's other masterworks to tell this ever-timely story. A middle-aged chanteuse, Madam Xia, returns from San Francisco in the spring of 1935 to her family estate in the heartland of China during the last days of the Nationalist Government. Amid dangerous flirtations and yearnings for people and lives of which they cannot keep hold, Xia and her daughters - Ming, who has lived her entire life managing the estate, Wu, who longs for escape from her marriage, and Liang, who finds solace in the ideology of Communism - confront the loss of their home, family and way of life. A Winter People is a portrait of the challenges of a family in transition. 


A Winter People (under the former title, The Morning People) was first presented by Toy Factory and the Singapore Arts Festival on June 6, 2002. The production was directed by Goh Boon Teck.

Siet: Neo Swee Lin

Qiang: Lim Kay Siu

Ri: Beatrice Chia

Soh: Emma Yong

Xing: Gerald Chew

Passerby: Lee Weng Kee

Liang: Carina Hales

Mei: Janice Koh

Hua: Hossan Leong

Huang: Rodney Olivero

Whun: Sheikh Haikel

Yi: Chua En Lai

Da: Kevin Murphy 

The play was produced at Theatre at Boston Court in Los Angeles on August 14, 2004. It was directed by Chay Yew.

Xia: Emily Kuroda

We: Elizabeth Pan

Ming: Lydia Look

Liang: Melody Butiu

Han: Ken Narasaki

Zhou: Dennis Dun

Liao: Greg Watanabe

Wei: Ryun Yu

Shang: Teddy Chen Culver

Communist Soldier: Teddy Chen Culver


"Superbly written... The text of A Winter People is an exquisite example of how the classics can be radically adapted and yet sound as if written by the original author, when the bottom-line approach of the adapter is not deconstruction but reverence (coupled, of course with first-rate talent). The credit here goes to LA-based Chay Yew who has managed to step into the shoes of Chekhov while taking his Cherry Orchard as a basis, intertwining in it texts, plots, characters or just nuances from Three Sisters, Uncle Vanya, and The Seagull, and finally coming up with a very Chekhovian story which takes place circa 1934 in Qing Dynasty Manchuria, just before communism steps onto the stage." (European Cultural Review)


"Brilliant... Playwright Chay Yew follows the events and characters of Chekhov’s script closely, but he consistently makes such adjustments as needed to suit the tale to northern China and the Thirties. Chay adeptly grafts verbatim a number of Chekhov’s saddest or funniest lines (in some cases, these are one and the same), while his own text is a potent brew - by turns poetic, stark, robust, straight-forward, and veiled, fleshing out the themes from Chekhov or the pre-revolutionary Chinese setting." (Quarterly Literary Review Singapore)

"Western and Eastern ideologies and playwriting converge in a A Winter’s People.  Director and writer, Chay Yew, presents this brilliant adaptation of Anton Chekov’s the Cherry Orchard, which is about the decline of the aristocracy and the rise of the peasant class in Russia just before the USSR takeover in 1917.  Many of the lines are almost verbatim to Chekov’s version, but Chay’s version seems even more thought provoking with its modern themes, and it differs just enough to make it original and a must see." (Center Stage)

“Adapting the classics can be a tricky journey. In the case of A Winter People, playwright Chay Yew is clear about his impetus to travel down the road paved by Anton Chekhov in The Cherry Orchard.  Chekhov's 1904 tale of misguided aristocracy and political idealists facing the end of an era is now transplanted to 1935 China. It's just before the fall of the Nationalist government and the rise of the Communist Party. What fabulous parallels, and room for Yew's distinctive signature!  Yew's choices - he also directs - beautifully underscore the political, focusing on the rumblings of social upheaval underneath the rich soil. It's here that A Winter People moves forward with force and precision. Yew and Chekhov seem to be in step, with emotionally satisfying results.”  (Backstage West)

“Embroidered with the conversational cruelties and banal ruminations of the waiting classes, Chay Yew’s adaptation of The Cherry Orchard moves Chekhov’s play to China and 30 years forward. The update is a clean fit, and, as this production’s director, Yew has assembled a visually elegant panorama of brittle misery.” (L.A. Weekly)

A Winter People by Chay Yew, who also directs, is an indirect adaptation of Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard, reset in 1930s China. The best of this adaptation is the clarity with which this similarity is explored.  Essentially, A Winter People is a beautiful piece of art. In its message about the need for change and the pointlessness of living in an impossible past, the story is timeless. It is thrilling to see someone take Chekhovian ideas and prove once again how universal they really are. Between that and the sheer pleasure of a collection of fine performances this good, I'd call it one to watch.” (Pasadena Star News)

"From the fertile brain of LA’s own director/playwright Chay Yew comes the American premiere of his remarkable "A Winter People" at Theatre at Boston Court, a lovely, beautifully realized updating of Chekhov’s greatest masterpiece, The Cherry Orchard. True art makes you think, which is why The Cherry Orchard is still so revered and why, in a perfect world, A Winter People will be equally enduring. It is a work which should provoke anyone with a conscience to leave the theatre lost in thought. If only people would take a stand and not stick their heads in the sand, the world might be in our hands once again and change could be something we regulate ourselves and celebrate wholeheartedly, not just something from which to hide." (Entertainment Today)


"Critical Analysis: US-based S'porean playwright Chay Yew explores the meaning of theatre amid globalization" - Singapore Business Times

"Arts renaissance on the Asian Equator" - European Cultural Review 

Cherry Blossoms in China" - Quarterly Literary Review Singapore

A Winter People show program at Boston Court

Singapore show program and press

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