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									Lao Wai A one-act play in English and Chinese Characters:

A waitress (W) A young Chinese couple (C1, the man; C2, the woman) The restaurant manager (M) An Englishwoman in her mid-twenties (F) Note: (In the Wuhan Production, as the play begins the restaurant manager speaks to the

audience, as a Prologue. They can see the setting: the restaurant interior, the waitress, the Chinese couple. The manager explains that this is the first day opening for the restaurant, and therefore a critical day for the waitress, who is on trial)
混了这么多年,赚了两个钱,想来想去还是开个酒店好,今天开张,不晓得生意怎样,雇了个服 务员,也不知头底,不过她的歌子唱得还是不错的。 The set:

(Interior. Posh restaurant. Two tables. One empty, one with a young Chinese couple, their food – jiaozi -almost finished. They are chatting, the man is smoking and drinking baijiu. A waitress in uniform stands motionless, clamped to the wall. The manager is now off-stage, in his office. There is a sideboard with a pile of menus, plates, bowls, glasses, chopsticks, ash-trays, two teapots, and a bottle of milk. Music is playing softly in the background. The waitress begins to sing along with the music, then stops abruptly as a foreign woman with a backpack appears in the entrance. The waitress switches the music off and stares at the foreign woman. The couple look round at the foreign woman, and also fall silent. The waitress walks over to greet her.)
(Note: SL = stage left

SR = stage right)

W: Ni hao. Ji wei? ――你您好,几位? F: Good evening. Lovely day. W: Ning yao chi fan zhe bian qing?――您要吃饭,这里边请? F: Hmmm… W: Ning yao chi fan zhe bian qing?――您要吃饭,这里边请?


F: Ermmm...

(W leads F to the empty table)
W: Qing zuo.――请坐

(F does not sit down)
W (pulls out a chair for F): Qing zuo――请坐

(F sits down)
F: Thank you very much, thank you. That's fine. Somewhere to rest my bum.

(W nods with enthusiasm)
F: Am I... too late? (pause) Is it too late? W: Dui buqi. ――对不起――,I can't speak English. F: Don't worry about that. I can't speak Chinese.

(F looks at C1 and C2)
C1, C2 (waving): Hello. F: (waving) Hello. C1, C2: Hello.

(Waitress, mumbling to herself, goes off to the sideboard. She brings a teapot and pours F a cup of tea. Then she hurries off, SL, shouting for the manager. We hear their off-stage voices).
W (shouting): Yige lao wai! ――一个老外 M: Yige lao wai? Na you shenme ke da jing xiao guaide?――一不就是个老外,那有什么好可大 惊小怪的? W: Jing li, ni hui shuo yinyu, ma?――经理,你会说英语吗?

M (speaking as he walks on stage, with the waitress behind him): Hui ne me liang ju. ――会那么两句――,(in English) Hello, I love you, goodbye. (F looks at him and smiles) M: Hello. F: Hello M (to W, in Chinese): Anyway, that's your job, to speak English. No happy customer, no job for you. Ta shi meiguoren, haishi yinguoren?――,小二,我跟你讲说,这是你的工作,你得讲 说英语,客人不高兴,你就要走人,对了,她是美国人,还是英国人? W: Bu zhi dao. Ta bu shi yinguoren jiu shi meiguoren――不知道,她不是英国人,就是美国 人。 M (points to the sideboard): Nai cha. Waiguoren hen xihuan nai cha. Kuai qu zhun bei nai cha.――噢!奶茶,外国人喜欢奶 茶,快去准备奶茶。

(The manager escapes back to his office. The waitress takes F some milk, and is about to pour it into her cup. F stops her)
F (excited): What are you doing? Milk in Chinese tea? What are you thinking of? W: Dui buqi.――对不起 F: No problem.

W takes the milk bottle back to the dresser, picks up a menu and gives it to F. F reads the menu upside down. The waitress watches for a moment, then turns it the right way up)
F: It's in Chinese. Don't you have an international one? W: Shengme?――什么? C2: Ta kan bu dong. ――她看不懂。 F: (giving the menu back) Just some beef then. Beef? W: Shengme?――什么?


F: Beef. Beef. W: Beef. Shengme――什么―― beef?

(F and W stare at each other in silence)
F: Hold on.

(F looks in her backpack and takes out a pen and some paper. She draws a sketch and hands it to W)
F: There you are.

(W studies the sketch)
W: What’s that?――这是什么? F: What?

(W takes the sketch to the couple. They look at it and shake their heads)
F: It’s a cow. Can’t you see? A cow.

W and the couple look at each other, mystified.. F stands up, and puts her fingers to her head, to represent horns. Then she dips her head, and makes a mooing noise.)
F: Mooooo! Mooooo!

(The manager comes in, SL, then goes quickly back to his office.)
C2: Niu rou! Ta yao niu rou!――牛肉!她要牛肉! C1: Bu shi niu. Shi yang roh. Ta yao yang roh. ――不是牛,是羊肉,她要羊肉――

Baaaaaa! Baaaaa!
W+C2 (together, in Chinese): No, it was definitely a cow. Mooooooo! (they imitate the foreigner, using their fingers, and dipping their heads) Mooooo! Bu jue dui shi niu rou. ――不,肯定是牛,绝对是牛肉。 F: Yes. That's it. A cow. Beef.


C1 (to F): Shi niu, shengme?――是牛,牛什么? W (to F): You hen duo niu rou. Ni yao shengme niu rou? Women zhe you wu xiang niu rou, mala niu rou, hui guo niu rou, tie ban niu rou, Ni yao na yi zhong? ――我们有很多牛肉。你要 什么牛肉,我们这儿这有五香牛肉,麻辣牛肉,回锅牛肉,铁板牛肉,你要哪一种? F: Hold on. Just a minute. Beef may not be a good idea. Are your cows okay? You know. Do you have any mad cows?

(there is a pause, then F dances around a little, imitating a mad cow)
W: Aiyuo! Ni shuode zenme duo zhongniu roh, wo yi ju ye ting bu dong――哎哟!你说的这么 多种牛肉,我一句也都听不懂. F: Okay. I know. Pork. You must have some pork. That should be safe enough. Pork. Pig meat. W: Shengme?――什么?

(F grunts a few times) (The manager comes out of his office again. F does not see him watching her, and she continues to grunt. The manager steps forward.)
M: Zhu. Yiding shi zhu. Haode nűshi. Qing zuo, women mashang gei ni sheng…(in English) a pig. ――猪,一定是猪,好的,女士没问题,我们马上给你上 a pig。 F: A pig? Good God I hope not. A whole pig? Too much! M: (in English): No problem. Qing zuo――你讲我听不懂,请坐――. (pause) Pig. F: Just a small piece of pig, you understand? From the leg, or the shoulder, maybe (F indicates her leg and her shoulder). *M: No problem. ――请坐――Qing zuo。

(to W)

“Qing zuo” yong yinyu zenme shuo?――请坐用英语怎么讲说?(a little angry now) Wo bai hua qian gule ni, min tian wo jiu chaole ni! ――我白花钱雇了你,我钱都化脏了,明天你就回家吧! 我就炒了你! (to F): Zuo ba.――坐吧

(F does not react) M (pushes F down on to her chair): Zuo ba――坐吧. M; (leaving): Qiao, ta tingde dong wo shuode ma――瞧,她听得懂我说的吧吗!

(The manager returns to his office.)

W (to F): Pig. (pause) You hen duo――有很多―― pig. Ni yao shengme――你要什么――pig?

(F sits down and puts her head in her hands. Then she looks at the remains of the food on the other table. She goes over and points at a nearly finished dish.)
F: This one. I’ll have this one. It doesn’t look too bad. W: Jiaozi?――饺子。 F: Whatever. Anything. I'm starving. You know starving? Starving. (she pats her stomach) Just bring me something, please! W: Jiaozi? Ni yao jiaozi? Haiyou shengme?――饺子,你要饺子?还有什么? F: Whatever.

(She goes back to her own table. The waitress goes off SR, mumbling about the jiaozi. The manager comes out again SL, and stands by the foreigner's table.)
*M: Jiaozi? (in Chinese) All that good food I could offer you. But you don't understand a word I'm saying. Jiaozi! Too simple! You could have Gong bao ji ding. Shui zhu rou pian. Zu tong pai guo. Something really good. But you want jiaozi. What a waste! ――饺子,我们有很 多好吃的东西,但你讲的我都却一句听不懂!饺子!太简单了!你可以点个宫爆鸡丁、水煮肉 片、粉蒸排骨,这些都很好好吃,你偏要饺子,你叫我怎么讲你简直浪费! F: Yes, I know the problem. Thank you very much. Very good. W: (Shouts from off-stage): Ji liang? Ji liang jiaozi?――几两,几两饺子? M: Gei ta san liang. Dui ne, bu yao shou ta de qian.――给她三两,对了,不要要收她的钱。

(He goes back into his office.)
C1: (stares at F for a moment or two, then says, in Chinese, to C2): Foreign women smoke, you know. Give her a cigarette.――你可知道,外国女士也吸烟,给她一支香烟。

C2 (in Chinese): They don't all smoke.她们不是都吸烟吧? C1: (Chinese) Yes, they do. I've seen them in the movies. They all smoke. Like chimneys. Lao yan chang. Give her a cigarette.是的,她们吸烟,我从电影上看到的,他们都吸

C2: Are you sure?――你能肯定? C1: Of course I'm sure. Give her a cigarette. ――当然了,我敢肯定,给她一支烟。

(C2 goes to F's table and offers her a cigarette, which she accepts with much enthusiasm.)
F: Oh, brilliant! Brilliant! Just what I need. (C1 comes over and offers a light. The flame is turned dangerously high.) F: Thank you.

C1: No thanks.
C2: No thanks.

(The couple go back to their table, and the foreigner puffs away at the cigarette. The waitress brings in a plateful of jiaozi, with sauces. Then she goes and stands flush to the wall again. F picks up her chopsticks, which are disposable, and not yet separated. She does not know what to do with them. Without snapping the chopsticks apart, she tries to pick up a jiaozi. She fails, and then tries to jab the wood into the jiaozi, and pick it up that way. Everyone is watching her. C2 comes over with her own chopsticks and shows F how to separate them.)
F: Oh, I see. Right. I didn't want to break them, you know. Thank you.

(she carefully separates the chopsticks)
F: Thank you.

C2: No thanks. C1: No


C1 (again stares at F for a while in silence, then says in Chinese, to C1): Foreign women drink a lot, you know. I’ve seen them at it. In the movies. Pijiu, putaojiu, gan hong, gan bai,

baijiu, huangjiu, mijiu, hongjiu. Anything and everything. (he picks up his bottle of baijiu) Give her a drop. Eh, xiaojie! Zai yi bei. ――你可知道,外国女士喜欢喝酒,我从电

影上见到的,啤酒、干红、干白、白酒、黄酒、米酒、红酒,各种各样的 酒。
(W goes to the sideboard) C2: They can't all drink, surely? Not all of them?――她们不是都喝酒吧?你确信每个人都喝? C1: They do. I’ve seen them at it. Every one. Go on. Give her some.――对,他们个个都

(The waitress gives them a baijiu glass. C2 fills it, and takes it over to F)
F: Aha! What's this then?

(She sniffs it)

Oooh! Strong stuff. Lovely, just what I need, a livener. Know what I mean? Thank you very much indeed. Not a very big glass, though, is it? Why is it such a small glass?

(C2 nods. F empties the glass in one gulp. C1 comes over with the bottle and gives her a refill, then returns to his table.)
F (drinks the glass dry again): Excellent! My word! That’s more like it. I feel better already. Cheers.

(She toasts the couple.)
F: Really excellent. Thank you. C2 (in English): No thanks. C1:

No thanks.

F: No no no, listen. Don't say `no thanks'. You say `that's okay', or `you're welcome'. `That's okay', or `you're welcome'. C2: That's okay or you're welcome. F: No, only one.


No, only one.

F: Jesus! C2: Jesus!

(C1 pulls C2 away by the sleeve, and they go back to their own table, and prepare to pay the bill. F continues with her meal. The couple say goodbye and leave. The waitress takes them to the exit, and stays there looking out. The foreign woman now sits facing the audience, and begins to talk to herself.)
F (looking at the jiaozi): Not bad. Whatever they are. Filling. Tasty. But I want something simple. Like an egg. On toast. Yes, an egg, tomorrow, for breakfast. It’s not much to ask for.

(W turns to face F, who waves a hand. W comes to F’s table)
F: Any chance, do you think? Could you give me an egg, to take away? To take home? Jesus. W: Je-sus. Je-sus. F: Exactly. F (stands up): Well thanks anyway, thanks for everything, that was lovely. (she points at her watch) I have to go now. So I'd like to pay please. W: Shengme?――什么?

(F takes some money out of her pocket.)
W: Bu yong. Bu yong. Lao ban! Lao ban!――不用,不用。老板!老板!

(The manager enters, and he and W push the foreign woman towards the exit. Halfway there, she stops.)
F: Hey. Take it easy.

(F offers money again, and they wave it away)
W and M (together): Bu yong!――不用给钱,今天开张,外国朋友免费。 F: I see. Well, thanks very much. But there is just one thing I would really like to have,

before I go. An egg. To take away. Please understand me! An egg!

(The manager and the waitress look at each other.)
M: Shengme? Qing man yi dian shuo.――什么?你请能不能慢一点说。 F: An egg, an egg, an egg. Just one little egg!. M: A negg. Shengme――什么――? A negg?

(F gestures the shape of an egg, with her hands. Then she takes out the pen and paper, and draws one.)
M: Man tou? Ni yao man tou?――馒头?原来你要馒头? F: Man tou? Maybe. An egg.

(M sends W off stage right for some man tou. She runs back in and shows it to F)
F: No, no, no. An egg.

(F then begins to crow a few times, and posture like a hen, catching a make-believe egg which drops from under her. M and W stand for a second or two looking mystified)
W: Wo zhi dao! Xiao deng!――我知道!稍等!

(W runs off, SR, watched by M and F. When she runs back on, she is holding up a roll of toilet paper. She puts it on the table.)
F: Well, that wasn't exactly what I wanted, but never mind, it's very kind of you. And I'm sure it will be useful very soon. Thank you so much for everything. Thanks. M and W: No thanks. No thanks.

(F looks at her watch.)
F: I’m sorry, I must run. (mimes running) Phone call from England.

(M and W stare at F, and she makes the gesture of telephoning. They copy her, M points towards his office, but F takes her chance to run quickly out of the restaurant.

(W looks at the table, and sees that F has left the toilet roll behind. She runs to the exit

and shouts)

W: Ei――唉――! Miss! Lady! Hui lai――回来――! Negg! Negg!

(F runs back in to the restaurant, goes to the table, and puts the toilet roll in her pocket. She tries to run out quickly)
M (shouts): Man zou!――慢走! F: I’m sorry? W: Man man zou.――慢慢走。

(The manager thinks for a moment)
M: Slowly. Go slowly. F: Go slowly? Why? Is it wet?

(she looks at the floor)

M: Yes. Go slowly. F: Okay, if you insist. Man zou. Go slowly.

(they all walk very slowly towards the exit)
F: It doesn’t look wet to me. Just a bit greasy. W: Go slowly. F: Yes! No!. (she runs off) W (to M): Was I okay?――我还行吗? M: Not bad.――还不错。 W: So I keep my job?――那么你还留我吗? M: Maybe.――可能吧。

(F comes back in the door) F: I’m sorry. I forgot. W and M (together): Forgot. F (she moves closer, and with good pronunciation and appropriate Chinese body language, she now says, in Chinese) Jiari Kuaile!――节日快乐! (she then faces the audience and repeats) Jiari kuaile!――节日快乐!


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