The Bonesetter’s Daughter is a novel about war and revenge, memory and loss, joy and connection…and mothers and daughters. In distilling Amy Tan’s 400-page epic down to a single night at the Center Theatre for Book-It audiences, playwright Desdemona Chiang and director Rosa Joshi had to choose which of Tan’s themes and ideas to emphasize, and they both felt that the profound and complicated love between Ruth and her mother LuLing, and between all the other mothers and daughters of the Liu family, was at the heart of the story they wanted to tell.
One of their ways into that story became clear as they started casting the show.
If you see many plays around the Pacific Northwest, you’ve likely come across Rosa’s name before—she’s best known for directing Shakespeare and other classical works with companies including Seattle Shakespeare Company, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and upstart crow collective. Especially in recent years, her casts have been made up of women and non-binary people, whose stories are deeply underrepresented in the western classical canon and whose presences onstage breathe fresh life into familiar tales. Rosa didn’t come into The Bonesetter’s Daughter expecting to follow her usual casting protocols—it was Desdemona’s suggestion. As the pair recently told Encore, giving the stage over to 8 Asian women and non-binary folx was an opportunity to marry Rosa’s artistic vision with Desdemona’s stunning adaptation, all while bringing the central theme of mother/daughter relationships into clear focus.
As Desdemona put it,
“Usually when I work on a piece of theatre, I do have some kind of agenda. And by ‘agenda’ I mean, ‘What can I get the audience to do, feel, understand about their world and their lives?’ And, if anything, if I can get someone in the audience to leave the lobby and want to call their mom or their daughter or their grandma or a sister after the show, that’s what I would love to happen.”
The Bonesetter’s Daughter is entering its final weekend! Get your tickets today.