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Prolific producer

Updated: 2012-09-28 09:23
By Mu Qian ( China Daily)

Prolific producer
Prolific producer

Director Meng at the rehearsal of Guns, Lies and Roses, in which actors smash everything on stage.

He has come a long way - from being an unknown to one of China's most popular theater directors. Mu Qian catches up with Meng Jinghui to find out what keeps the man going.

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As one of China's most commercially successful theater directors, Meng Jing-hui says he feels freer than ever because almost whatever he does will sell. Meng's signature work Rhinoceros in Love, a story about a lonely young man's secret love for a woman, celebrated its 1,000th performance in August, a record for contemporary Chinese theater. Two months before that, his new work Guns, Lies and Roses astonished audiences when actors hysterically smashed everything they found on stage.

Then earlier this month, his rendition of To Live challenged audiences' nerves again.

Compared to Zhang Yimou's blockbuster film of the same title, Meng's theater version cruelly let 10 characters related to the hero die one by one. Even Yu Hua, writer of the original novel, couldn't help crying when he saw the play.

Both Guns, Lies and Roses and To Live were sold out.

Prolific producer

Each year Meng's studio produces about 10 works, either directed or supervised by him. These plays run 500-600 performances a year, and on a typical day, four plays produced by Meng's studio are being performed in different cities of China.

"Theater is such a fertile piece of land, that you can plant many different kinds of seeds in it," says Meng, 48. "My interest in theater is the same as 20 years ago. There's still a long way for me to go."

Although Rhinoceros in Love has had five versions with different casts and has been translated into five different languages, Meng believes that there's still more he can do with it.

"Rhinoceros in Love is a very symbolic work, and there are numerous ways to present it," he says. "Maybe next year I will do it in a different way."

Though having more freedom, Meng feels that he also has more responsibility nowadays because he is not only an artist, but also a public figure, leader of a team, and artistic director of the Beijing Fringe Festival, which he co-founded four years ago.

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