2016.033.001 Interview with Ming Cho Lee March 18, 2016

For over forty-five years, Ming Cho Lee has served on the faculty at Yale School of Drama, including as the co-chair of the design department. As a recipient of the National Medal of Arts in 2002 and the Tony award for lifetime achievement in 2013, Ming Cho Lee is one of the most acclaimed living set designers in the U.S. He is originally from Shanghai but moved to Hong Kong during his childhood, and went to the United States to attend Occidental College in 1949. He then attended UCLA and moved to New York City to pursue his career. In this interview, Lee discusses the impact of his childhood experiences, especially those of his mother taking him to theater performances and movies, his time attending Occidental College, and his determination to become a major theater set designer. He credits Jo Mielziner and Boris Aronson as his teachers who both deeply influenced his career.

0:01 - 对美国的第一印象,西方学院,生父母之间的紧张关系,需要加强训练的语言 First impression of U.S., Occidental College, tensions between bio-parents, the need of language training

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9:20 - 只看好莱坞电影,中国被日本占领地区禁止播放好莱坞电影期间,与妈妈去剧院,妈妈是著名演员,舅舅是电影制作人,但从未想过自己会做这个行业 Only saw Hollywood's movies, while banned on Hollywood’s movies in Japan occupied China, went to theater with Mom to see operas, mom was a well-known actress, uncle was a film producer, never thought himself been in the field

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15:40 - 与母亲一起周六看电影去剧院的时光,被演出深深打动,世界第二次大战和中国电影 Quality time with mother going to movies and theaters on Saturdays, deeply moved by the performances, World War II and the Chinese cinema

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26:15 - 六岁父母离婚,周六跟母亲看演出,是不寻常的青少年生活,其他日子跟其他孩子一样,迷人的鸦片吸食故事叙述者在香港 Uncommon teenage life, went to theaters with mom on Saturdays, did the same things with other kids on other days; the glamorous opium smoking story-tellers in Hong Kong

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34:00 - 蝴蝶夫人和信件阅读,与阿妈的生活,离婚后父母各方家庭的生活 Madame Butterfly and letter reading, life with amah, both sides of family’s journeys after divorce

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41:32 - 妈妈建议,成为一个中国山水画学徒,父亲不喜欢,大学期间与父母的联系,两年半以后才变成主修 Mom suggested and he became a Chinese landscape painting disciple, father did not like it at all, connection with parents during college, took over 2.5 years to make it a major

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48:00 - 融入大学生活,成为梅尔齐纳的学生,从两个文化中汲取灵感,中国艺术的影响,使用刷子 Getting through college, became Jo Mielziner’s apprentice, drawn on two cultures, the influence of Chinese painting and his childhood experience, using a brush

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58:44 - 从梅尔齐纳处受益最多, 成为一个舞台设计师,剧院中的艺术师,而不是技术员,受布里斯阿隆松的影响更多,前卫想法,现代,时尚,是梅尔齐纳和布里斯阿隆松的结合 Jo Mielziner, took care of him the most, taught him the most, became a stage designer, an artist not a technician of the theater, big influenced from Boris Aronson’s far out thinking, modern, up to date, followed Boris more, was the combination of Jo and Boris

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68:25 - 关于种族歧视,一定存在但在Occidental没有感受,西方学院的第一个黑人学生是室友,三个中国学生,历史和个人的进步,用“明”定义自己 About racism, it exists but not in Occidental, the first Black student in Occidental college was roommate, there were 3 Chinese students, the progress of history and oneself, self-identity “Ming”

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