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Classic tale gets new treatment

By Cheng Yuezhu | China Daily | Updated: 2022-09-20 08:10
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Feng Yuanzheng (top) and the main performers of Du Fu at a recent rehearsal session at Beijing People's Art Theatre.[Photo provided by Jiang Dong/China Daily]

This is the third time that the play will be staged. According to Feng, no major change has been made, but it's also not an exact reproduction of the previous editions.

While having the same actors for the main roles, the cast has included a group of young actors who recently joined the theater, aiming to give them the chance to gain experience and participate, so as to quickly fit into the troupe.

This time, the crew gathered one month in advance and started by reading the script together.

"I told the younger members that they should focus on the script rather than read a lot of external material about Du Fu's life experiences. When writing the script, Guo read 187 books about Du Fu's poetry and life. Everything is encapsulated in the script, so it's essential to understand it fully," Feng says.

"Most of the actors who read the script for the first time understand it after the 10th day of rehearsal. The script has profound implications, yet tells Du Fu's life story in an ingenious way."

Halfway through the rehearsal session, Feng signaled for an intermission and began talking to actor Yang Mingxin about whether he could express the nuanced emotions when listening to the lines of another performer.

"This is a characteristic of Feng," Yang says.

"No matter how many times we've performed in a play, and whether he is the director or not, if he sees something that can be improved, he will come to discuss with us.

"And he won't tell us how to act. He will tell us his opinions, and let us mull over the ways to improve our own performances. It's very common for him to talk to both young actors and experienced ones."

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