Festival born out of snapshots of a mother's life

By Chen Nan ( China Daily ) Updated: 2017-08-19 10:46:54

Festival born out of snapshots of a mother's life

From left: Hong Kong-based Drama Gallery's Deadline; Drama Need Girl. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The fourth International Women's Festival kicked off in Beijing last Friday. The brainchild of Beijing-based theater director Li Zi, the biennial event made its debut in 2011.

Four theatrical works will be staged from August 16 to September 10 in Beijing, all focused on female themes.

This year, the festival opened with the Hong Kong-based Drama Gallery's Deadline, which was inspired by the true story of Etan Patz, a boy who was abducted and killed in New York in 1979. Directed by Benny Yu and written by playwright Yu Hon-ting, the drama premiered in Hong Kong in 2012.

Theater du Pif, another theater company from Hong Kong, is staging two works, Dance Me to the End of Love and 4.48 Psychosis.

Dance Me to the End of Love combines theater and dance with music by the Canadian musician and poet Leonard Cohen. It will be performed by the theater's artistic director and founder Chan Lai-chu. Drawing inspiration from Hermann Hesse's novel Siddhartha, it tells the story of a prince named Siddhartha, who conquers his fear and searches for the meaning of life. The show will end on Aug 19 at the Star Theater in Beijing.

Later, the company will stage 4.48 Psychosis, a play by British playwright Sarah Kane (1971-99), which is about depression. The playwright suffered from severe depression and killed herself in 1999 after writing this play.

Mala Scena Theatre from Croatia will stage the drama Needle Girl on Sept 9 and 10, directed by Ivica Simic, the artistic director of the theater.

Li, who completed her master's degree in direction and theater production at the National Academy of Chinese Theater Arts in 2009, says that the festival resulted from her desire to give back something to her mother and other Chinese women.

"I was looking at a family photo album. I had looked through it before, but I never looked at it carefully. This time, in every photo, I could see my mother's eyes were sparkling, and I realized that she was anticipating the future just like any young person," says Li.

As she looked at more pictures of her mother-getting married, giving birth to her and getting old-it made her think about how a woman experiences life juggling a family and career, her mother was an as she became an architecture teacher.

"For more female directors and playwrights to have their voices heard, and women in the audience be inspired by their works, that's what we aim for," says Li.

According to Li, the previous festival in 2015 had an audience of 50,000, and she anticipates the same this year.

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