Press Release

Back to Press Releases

The Crazed, opening May 17, marks 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre.  (Download PDF)


April 1, 2014: Adaptation of story by award winning novelist marks 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre.

A new play by Sally Dawidoff based on the acclaimed novel by Ha Jin (winner of the National Book Award and two PEN/Faulkner awards), about a young scholar coming of age in Communist China on the eve of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

When the venerable Professor Yang suffers a stroke, his student Jian Wan is assigned to care for him. But when the professor begins to rave like a madman, Jian Wan is thrown into a quandary: are these the outpourings of a crazed mind, or is Yang speaking the truth—about his past, about art, about how to live a meaningful life?

Born in mainland China, novelist Ha Jin was on a scholarship at Brandeis University in 1989 when the Tiananmen Square massacre took place. The incident hastened his decision to become an American and figures prominently in The Crazed (2002). He has written in English since 1990. To date, he has published three volumes of poetry; four books of short fiction; and six novels, including The Crazed, Waiting (National Book Award and PEN/Faulkner Award winner), and War Trash (PEN/Faulkner Award winner). Only Ha Jin, Philip Roth, John Edgar Wideman, and E. L. Doctorow have won the PEN/Faulkner Award more than once. Ha Jin’s work has been translated into more than thirty languages. He is a professor of English and creative writing at Boston University. His new novel, A Map of Betrayal, is coming out in fall 2014.

“A work of enormous intelligence. Piercing, critical, but leavened by Jin’s understated prose, The Crazed is a substantial addition to the corpus of a great author.”—San Francisco Chronicle

Playwright Sally Dawidoff is a poet as well. Her work has been published widely; selected poems can be found at, the website of the poetry collective The Urban Range. This spring, she and California visual artist Georgia June Goldberg co-designed a multimedia art installation, Coming to Know What We’ve Always Known, featuring Dawidoff’s poetry; the installation won an international competition and was exhibited in Charlottesville, VA. Dawidoff has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and from artist-in-residence programs in the U.S. and abroad, including Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, where she first read The Crazed; Headlands Center for the Arts, where she began work on the adaptation; and Soaring Gardens, where she finished it.

Dawidoff’s adaptation of the novel was developed in the Central Works Writers Workshop over the course of a year, beginning in the fall of 2012. Twice a year, Central Works selects 8 writers to develop scripts in a 12-week session of workshops culminating in read-throughs of all the projects. Her script was then selected for production in Central Works 2014 season. The play, running from May through June, coincides with the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

The all Asian-American cast of seven includes: Perry Aliado, Jeannie Barroga, Will Dao, Wes Gabrillo, Randall Nakano (member AEA), Carina Lastimosa Salazar and Louel Señores.

Next up in Central Works 24th season,a terrifyingly delightful world premiere: Dracula Inquest, adapted from Bram Stoker’s classic tale of horror by company co-director Gary Graves.

Continuing its mission to develop and produce new works for the theater, Central Works brings artists together as collaborative partners in creative projects. The Crazed will be the Company’s 42nd world premiere.

Central Works: the New Play Theater.