The Prodigal Son of Jixian is a play I wrote back in 2008, for a show my then-school (New Century Language and Culture Center) put on to showcase student talent in speaking the Chinese language. I wrote this basic script, and then each student performing in the play took his or her lines and translated those lines into Chinese, and then our troupe performed the play for the school.
This play is roughly based off of the Biblical parable, “the prodigal son,” although deviates a bit as this story takes place around the turn of the new millennium in China.
The Prodigal Son of Jixian
Narrator: (8 parts)
Father: (26 lines)
Older Daughter: (15 lines)
Younger Son: (21 lines)
Contractor: (6 lines)
Fast Blaze/Ms. Liu: (12 lines)
Wild Kitty/Ms. Chen: (8 lines)
Prologue The Prodigal Son
NARRATOR: Welcome to our play. Some of you have heard of the story of the Prodigal Son. Tonight we give you the story with new clothes. Our story begins in Jixian, near the city of Tianjin, with a businessman and his two children, an older daughter and his younger, impatient son. The older daughter helps her father everyday, cleaning the home, cooking food, and taking care of household business, but the younger son plays everyday, not listening to his father or his sister, returning home late in the evening, and spending his father’s money. He does not go to school, but spends his days at the internet café, playing games and smoking cigarettes. This is the story of his life. This is the story of how he became a good man.
Act 1 Leaving Jixian
(Enter Father and Daughter. Daughter is just doing some housework, and Father is arriving home from work.)
DAUGHTER: Good evening, Dad. How was work?
FATHER: Good. That young man from your college came to visit. Do you remember him? The handsome one?
DAUGHTER (exasperated): Oh, please, Dad. You know I don’t have time for that. Everything I do here, with Mom gone…
FATHER: Fine, fine. Have you seen your brother around? I need to tell him something.
DAUGHTER: He’s been gone all day. He left this morning, said he was going outside to smoke. He has not returned home yet.
FATHER: You don’t know where he went?
DAUGHTER: He’s probably at that internet bar, the Great Wall Café.
FATHER: Go down there are tell him to come home for dinner. I have something important to say to both of you.
DAUGHTER: Yes, Dad.
NARRATOR: That evening, the older daughter went to the internet café. Her brother was sleeping next to a pile of cigarettes. She told him to wake up, but he refused. She was very angry. She slapped him and carried him home. His eyes were very red, and he was not in a good mood. The family sat down for dinner.
(Enter Father. The family is sitting down for a nice dinner.)
FATHER: Next week, because of the holiday, my workers are going back to their hometowns. Because it will be a very busy week for travel, we can go to see your Aunt in the mountains.
DAUGHTER: That is great! I miss her so much. Is Cousin Li going to come home from Beijing?
FATHER: I heard, but I do not know. He is very busy. He has a really great job, you know.
SON: I’m not going.
FATHER: Of course you are going. What are you going to do here? You need some mountain air.
SON: I’m not going.
DAUGHTER: You’re crazy! Everyday you spend our money, eat our food, but do nothing! You don’t go to school, you don’t work, and you’re lazy.
FATHER: Please, daughter, he is still very young.
SON: I’m leaving.
FATHER: See? I told you. He is already growing up.
SON: You. I’m leaving you. I’m leaving Jixian. I’m leaving this house, and this stupid family.
SON: I have friends in Shanghai.
DAUGHTER: They are his internet friends, Dad. He doesn’t know their real names.
SON: I want my money, and I want the car. It’s mine, anyways, you bought it for me.
DAUGHTER: If you graduate from school, but you have never gone to class!
FATHER: It’s ok, daughter. This is his decision.
SON: I am leaving tonight.
FATHER: Be safe, son.
(Exit Father and Daughter)
Act II In Shanghai
NARRATOR: That evening, his son drove to Shanghai. It was a long drive, but the son finally felt happy. Finally, he could do as his pleased. No domineering sister, no one telling him what to do. No old father, no dead mother. And money, lots and lots of money. He felt like a king. He would become a king. The king of Shanghai.
(Enter Fast Blaze)
FAST: Hey, buddy. What’s up?
SON: Are you Fast Blaze? From the Superman Chat?
FAST: Yeah, buddy. You want to go have some fun?
FAST: You got cash?
SON: I’m loaded!
FAST: Great, really great. Follow me…
NARRATOR: The two new friends went out into the night. They gambled at the best places, smoked at the richest bars, drove down the fastest streets. They were children of the night, and they were happy. That night they found a hotel, and they slept at the top of the hotel. They watched TV all night, ate the most expensive food, and when the morning came, they slept all day. That night they met Wild Kitty.
(Enter Wild Kitty)
KITTY: Hey, Blaze.
FAST: Hey Kitty.
KITTY: Who is this guy?
FAST: This is “Prodigal”. Remember? He’s the guy from Jixian with the rich Dad.
KITTY: Hey, Prodigal! You’re here! So great! You want to have some fun?
SON: Yeah! Is that possible?
KITTY: I got a place in Shanghai. You can make money fast. Lots of money. Important guys come to my place. If they like you, you might get a job for them, and make more money. What do you think?
SON: This is more than my Dad ever gave me. This is so great.
(Exit Wild Kitty and Fast Blaze)
NARRATOR: The son joined Wild Kitty’s company. He worked hard and made lots of money. He spent money fast, bought houses, cars, love, everything he ever wanted. He was at the top of the world. Then one day, everything died.
(Enter Son. He is groggy and lying on the ground.)
(Enter Blaze. She looks angry. She walks over and kicks the Son.)
FAST: Hey! Where’s my money?!
SON: What? Where? What’s going on?
FAST: Where’s my money? You owe me 40,000 kuai! Last week I told you to pay up, or else I’d kill you!
SON: Wait! I’ve got your money right here…
(He looks in his pants, but his wallet is gone.)
My wallet, my money, it’s all gone…
FAST: I should kill you because of that! But I’m a generous woman. But don’t think you can work on these streets anymore. You will never again be able to get a job in this city. Leave, disappear, I don’t care. I don’t want to see your face again.
Narrator: The son knew he had problems. He started to beg on the streets for money, but when no one would look at him, he started stealing food from trashcans. One day he saw himself in a mirror and started to cry. He stood up and took a job at as a city worker, making streets in the hot sun, wearing broken shoes. Everyday his body became black, and at night he slept on the ground with other dirty men who stayed up all night drinking. After six months of working, he still had not received any money, so he went to see his boss.
SON: Hey, Boss.
CONTRACTOR: Why aren’t you at work? What’s wrong? Are you hurt?
SON: Pardon me, I’m terribly sorry, please forgive your stupid worker, but your worker wanted to ask you a stupid question.
CONTRACTOR: I’m a busy woman! Ask me now.
SON: When do I get paid?
CONTRACTOR: Paid? You want money?
You see all those other men? You think they have money? You’re all the same. Don’t forget it.
SON: But the job…
CONTRACTOR: Where do you think you are? You are lucky to have a job and food to eat. Don’t come to me with your problems. You think I have money? I have no money! You think you have problems? I have problems!
(The contractor is getting a little angry.)
You workers, you are all the same. Give us money, give us food. There isn’t enough! If you don’t like it, go home, go back to the farm. Eat your own tomatoes! Don’t beg me for mine!
SON: Terribly sorry, please excuse your stupid worker.
Act III The Return
NARRATOR: The son looked into his own heart and finally understood what he must do. He must return to his father and ask for forgiveness, and become his worker to pay off his debt. That was the only way he could become a good man. Soon, the son left his job, and got on a train to return home. However, because he had no money, he had to hide in the train, but when he was found, he had to find another train or another bus, or a stranger to take him in his truck. It took him many days to return home. And then one day, he saw his home. He felt so sad, but he knew what he must do.
FATHER: My son! My son!
(He runs out to embrace him.)
SON (weeping and kneeling before him): I am sorry, father. No, do not call me your son. I am a stupid, stupid man. I lost all your money, I lost your car, I lost your face. I am nothing. I only ask you to let me work for you as a worker, and I will give you all your money back.
FATHER: Ms. Chen!
(Enter Ms. Chen)
Bring my best jacket. Ms. Liu!
(Enter Ms. Liu)
Prepare dinner immediately, and call all the family! We are going to have a great feast!
SON: I don’t understand…
FATHER: You are returned my son. Please come inside and rest until dinner.
(Ms. Liu and Ms. Chen make preparations for the feast.)
(Exit Father and Son)
NARRATOR: That evening, the father put on a huge feast. Tables and tables of food, music and songs for the guests, and the son seated at the front of the table. His father was so happy seeing him sitting there, smiling like the sun. The Daughter, meanwhile, was working late at the office. As she came home, she heard the music and saw the lights of the feast.
DAUGHTER: What is going on?
CHEN: Your brother has returned.
DAUGHTER: My brother…
LIU: Your father prepared a huge feast and invited all the family. We tried to call you, but your phone was turned off.
DAUGHTER: I was at the office…
…my brother is home? He has been in Shanghai for two years. He never called, never sent a letter, and my father invites all the family for a big feast?
CHEN: Just go in, Miss. He will be happy to see you.
DAUGHTER: I will not.
LIU (to Ms. Chen): His children are all the same.
(Daughter storms out.)
FATHER: Was that my daughter?
CHEN: Yes, it was. She went out to the garden.
FATHER: What was wrong? I heard yelling.
LIU: She was angry, sir.
FATHER: Angry? Why?
CHEN: She’s not far.
FATHER: I’ll talk to her. You two go inside and serve the guests.
(Exit Ms. Liu and Ms. Chen)
FATHER: Daughter, what is wrong?
DAUGHTER: I don’t want to talk about it.
FATHER: Is it because of your brother?
(She is silent.)
Don’t you understand? He has come home!
DAUGHTER (in anger): I have given this home everything! I have given you everything! You have never given me a feast, you have never even given me a party! But this stupid boy, who stole your money, your car, our family’s respect, he comes back and you throw him the biggest party of the year! I knew you loved him more than me when you gave him the car, but now…
FATHER: Oh, daughter… everything I have is yours. My love I give you, my home I give you, you are the best dream an old man can wish for. But your brother, he died when he left, do you see? We lost him. He died…
(Pause for dramatic impact.)
…but now he is alive. Come to the feast, and see him. Eat with us, because he was lost, but now, he is found.