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Theater director enjoys overseas success

By Chen Jie | China Daily | Updated: 2014-04-30 08:54

Theater director enjoys overseas success

A scene from Tian's acclaimed work Green Snake. Chai Meilin / For China Daily


1997 - Severance (Breaking Wrist)

1998 - Peach Blossom at the Post

1999 - Between the Living and the Dead

2000 - The Hunchback Prime Minister

2001 - The Hurricane

2002 - The Riddle

2003 - Orphan of the Zhao Family

2004 - The Life Show

2005 - Classmate Zhao Ping

2006 - The Peach Blossom Fan

2008 - Things in the Ming Dynasty

2009 - Red Rose, White Rose

2010 - Night Club

2011 - Stunning Beauty

2013 - Green Snake

2014 - Romeo and Juliet

Traditional Chinese opera has different set roles and every young student started to be trained in one type from the very beginning. Tian was a dao ma dan, literally, "knife, horse, woman"-the female martial role who always fights onstage. That was so not her-she ranked among the last three in the class of 70 students.

"Whenever I was waiting on the side of the curtain, I felt myself trembling," she remembers.

After graduating from the opera school, she followed her heart to receive training at the Central Academy of Arts and Design for two years and audited some courses at the Beijing Film Academy.

But the seven years in opera school gave her a love for the theater. "I don't know how to perform but really enjoyed watching the plays," she says. Meanwhile, she read many Chinese classics and always imagined putting those stories onstage. In 1991, she applied to the directing department of the Central Academy of Drama, eager to be a person "standing behind the stage".

But her passive personality took her away from theater after graduation in 1995. She left Beijing to escape from a failed relationship.

She joined an advertising company in Shenzhen, some 2,400 kilometers south of the capital. "I did a good job there and what I learned in the advertisement business even helps me in directing drama today. But Shenzhen is a very commercial city. No theater and no friends. Suddenly I realized that theater is my real love and I cannot live without it," Tian says.

"What's more, I had held too much emotion inside and I need a way to let it out."

Theater director enjoys overseas success

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