'The Great Leap' Dan Norman


The Great Leap

Every Tue., Wed., Thu., Fri., and Sat. from Jan. 12-Feb. 10
7:30 p.m.
Every Sat. and Sun. from Jan. 12-Feb. 10
1 p.m.
Every Sun. from Jan. 13-Feb. 10
7 p.m.

Although many Americans didn’t think of China as a basketball powerhouse until Yao Ming joined the Houston Rockets in 2002, the world’s most populous country has been playing roundball since the 19th century. Lauren Yee’s 2018 play The Great Leap was inspired by a trip her father took to China as a member of a club team in the ’80s. In the play, an American college team arrives for an exhibition game in the era of the Tiananmen Square protests. Elements of a classic sports story (the gritty, aging coach, the questing young player) unfold in a turbulent setting—and what basketball story would be complete without an ending that comes down to the final buzzer? Director Desdemona Chiang helms the Guthrie’s production of Yee’s comic drama, aiming for nothing but net as her production takes the court on the McGuire Proscenium Stage. “What Lauren’s play does so beautifully,” she says, “is captures the larger tension between the U.S. and China during the ’80s and distills it into personal relationships. We’re able to read larger concerns, and larger consequences, based on the actions of individual people.”