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Theatre Graduate Student Writes and Directs Full Length Play

Theatre UCF graduate student Whit Emerson is presenting a new full length play in the UCF Performing Arts Center October 10-13. The comedy, titled All of Chinese Literature Condensed covers 10 major works of literature that contribute to modern day Chinese culture.

The play is written in a style reminiscent of the Reduced Shakespeare Company’s series of plays (The Bible Abridged, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged) in that it comically distills a huge body of work into short, comprehensible scenes.

Emerson wrote and is the director of All of Chinese Literature Condensed as part of his graduate thesis project. While teaching English in China, he fell in love with the Chinese language and culture. “I kept seeing parallels between American and Chinese culture. Even separated by thousands of miles and thousands of years, many commonalities existed. I wanted to let people from both cultures know our common ground is larger than we think.”

Emerson originally had the idea to write a play about Chinese history, but discovered someone had beaten him to it. “It was a big setback, but after reflecting on other subject matter for the play, I decided to focus on literature. I think literature actually works better, especially with my unique perspective on China.” Emerson became fluent in Chinese during his time in China and currently works as a Mandarin Chinese teacher.

Mark Routhier, the Director of New Play Development at Orlando Shakespeare Theatre and Emerson’s committee chair, stated, “Whit has done a great job at condensing what amounts to 3000 years of literary history and making it accessible to an American audience. It’s an entertaining jaunt that may have you purchasing some books that were previously unknown to you!”

“You don’t need any knowledge of Chinese literature or culture to see the play!” Emerson states emphatically. “In fact, it’s better if you come in as a blank slate. Then you can say you learned something!”

It was important to Emerson that the play give something back to the source of his inspiration, so during intermission, before, and after the show patrons have the opportunity to donate money to Mercy Corps. Mercy Corps is an Oregon-based international charity that works with the poor and underprivileged in many countries. All money raised during the show will go toward Mercy Corps’ mission in China. More information about Mercy Corps is available at

Production at a glance:

All of Chinese Literature Condensed
Written by Whit Emerson
Directed by Whit Emerson
7 pm: October 10, 11, 12, 13
UCF Performing Arts Complex Studio 2

Price: Free! (Parking permit required.
Cost is $3 for after 5:30pm)
Address: 12488 Centaurus Boulevard, Orlando FL 32816

For more information about Theatre UCF, visit
More information on Mercy Corps can be found at:

Contact: Whit Emerson, 407-920-9267, [email protected]