Profound productions

By Mu Qian ( China Daily ) Updated: 2012-11-30 10:16:15

Profound productions

Director Li Liuyi returns to the original form of drama and poetry to look for history's relevance to contemporary society through his new play Antigone. Provided to China Daily

Li Liuyi, the director who coined the term 'pure drama' to bring people back to the essence of plays, presents the Chinese production of Antigone. He shares with Mu Qian about his future projects.

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Although Antigone was written by Greek playwright Sophocles in the 5th century BC, Li Liuyi - director of the work's first Chinese production - says it has a contemporary flavor.

"When we rehearsed the play, we found that many of the questions we ask today were already raised by Sophocles in Antigone, like the relationships between power and virtue, law and belief, and individual and society," Li says.

Premiered on Nov 23 at the 2012 Lin Zhaohua Theater Art Festival, Antigone will have another performance at the Peking University Hall on Friday night.

Antigone is a daughter of the accidentally incestuous marriage between Oedipus of Thebes and his mother Jocasta. Antigone's two brothers kill each other in a civil war. After the battle, King Creon declares that as punishment, Polynices' body must be left on the plain outside the city to rot and be eaten by animals, while the other brother Eteocles was buried as tradition warranted.

Antigone feels that it was unjust, immoral and against the laws of the gods, and buries her brother regardless of Creon's law. Her action enrages Creon who put Antigone to death.

"I direct Antigone because I want to go back to the original form of drama and poetry to look for history's relevance to the contemporary society," says Li, a versatile director whose works include traditional Chinese operas, avant-garde theater, Western operas and ballets.

Li didn't change any line of the script, which is translated into Chinese by Luo Niansheng. With minimal set design, there is only a slightly oblique stage, which gives one a feeling of instability. The chorus, which used to sing in ancient Greece, now speaks with exaggerated tones and uses body language.

"I hope to create an ultimate space for acting, and try to have as few other elements as possible," he says.

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