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    Eclectic dramatic mix to grace Shanghai stages
Jie Jie
2005-10-17 05:49

The theatrical element of the Shanghai International Arts Festival is set to flourish this year, with 10 Chinese folk operas, four spoken plays, two musicals, one Western opera and a theatre of mime.

"Almost all forms of the contemporary theatre have been included in the festival," said Rong Guangrun, vice-president of Shanghai Dramatists' Association.

"We have exported productions, original Chinese plays, joint-productions by artists from both home and abroad and many works which won the 2004 national awards issued by the Ministry of Culture," he said.

The highlights include the opera "The Barber of Seville" directed by Maurizio Di Mattia from Teatro dell' Opera di Roma and starring tenor Juan Jose Lopera, soprano Inva Mula and arguably the best Chinese baritone Liao Changyong. Paolo Olmi will conduct the Choir of Shanghai Opera House with accompaniment from the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra.

Teatr Dramatyczny from Warsaw, Poland will perform "The Taming of The Shrew," one of Shakespeare's most popular comedies, directed by Krzysztof Warlikowski from November 17 to 19 at the Shanghai Drama Centre.

One of the best-known theatres in Eastern Europe, the Teatr Dramatyczny defines its own style of interpreting Shakespeare's classics and has endeared itself to audiences across the world.

With deep insights into marital adversity, male methods of taming female ambitions and bargaining over love and money, the bitter comedy is full of irony and understanding of human weaknesses.

Tricicle, an internationally celebrated physical comedy ensemble, will introduce the hilarious new production "Sit."

It tells the story of the humble chair and its incalculable impact on human life through the centuries. Its premiere at the London International Mime Festival in January 2005 was a sellout.

Since its founding in 1979, Tricicle has exported its productions to the great theatre capitals of the world London, New York, Paris and Buenos Aires and toured extensively elsewhere, following its fantastic reception at the Barcelona Olympics as the special guest ensemble.

The three artists' creative approach has contributed to the forming of a new genre a mixture of silent movie, clown technique, mime and conventional theatre.

The Chinese folk operas such as the Shanghai regional Yueju Opera, Peking Opera and Kunqu Opera have made great progress to combine with other forms to make new productions.

Shanghai Yueju Opera Theatre will perform "Jade Love" (Yu Qing Sao), based on one of the most influential short novels from the pen of the eminent writer Bai Xianyong.

The Yueju Opera version offers a new understanding of the female protagonist's passionate to hysterical love, reflecting the tragedy of time and human nature.

Captivated by Chinese traditional opera, acclaimed young Russian director Nikolay Druchek restages Zhao Yaomin's script "The Lost Opera" (Liangchen Meijing). The play covers the vicissitudes of a Kunqu Opera family through maintaining the glory of the traditional theatrical art in today's hustle and bustle.

The realistic, traditional show becomes an experimental stage experience combining opera and drama, the modern and traditional, Chinese and Russian styles.

Shanghai Peking Opera Theatre has created an ambitious adaptation of Shakespeare's "Hamlet," called "The Prince's Revenge" (Wangzi Fuchou Ji). The Peking Opera version presents a brand-new portrait of the never-hackneyed Danish prince and realizes another impressive cross-pollination of theatre performance between the East and the West.

The revenge scenarios and theatrical construction are maintained, while the background is transplanted to a virtual city, Chi Guo, and the characters renamed in Chinese.

Lots of classical monologues from the original are adapted into Peking Opera arias, and the full spectrum of the opera's skills and regular roles are showcased on a stage featuring the grandeur and conciseness of the traditional play.

Directed by Shi Yukun, adapted by Feng Gang and starring young actor Fu Xiru as the prince, the play was invited to Hamlet Sommer at Kronborg Castle in Denmark in August.

The Suzhou Kunju Opera House will present its latest production "The Palace of Eternal Youth" (Changchun Dian), which centres on the endless love between an emperor of the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and his concubine Yang Yuhuan, displaying contemporary aesthetics while paying full respect to the original of Hong Sheng, master playwright of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), and highlighting the features of the Southern school of Kunqu Opera.

(China Daily 10/17/2005 page5)


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