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Play with a public appeal

By Zhang Kun | China Daily Global | Updated: 2022-04-29 08:50
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A scene from One Fine Day, at National Theater of China in Beijing in 2020. [PHOTO BY LI YAN/FOR CHINA DAILY]

A production involving non-professional performers will be staged in an exciting new space, Zhang Kun reports.

One Fine Day, originally scheduled to be the opening production in March for the new Young Theater in Shanghai's Yangpu district, held rehearsals via web conference as most of the city is still under lockdown due to the latest COVID-19 outbreak.

Since the play was conceived by director Li Jianjun in 2013, it has been performed in Beijing, Hangzhou in Zhejiang province, Shenzhen in Guangdong province, and Hong Kong.

In each city, the director recruited a group of people with no theater background to share their real-life experiences onstage. Each person would carry a receiver and a transmitter and host his or her own independent channel while on the stage. Every member of the audience would similarly receive a headset and a radio and switch channels at any time to listen to whichever narrator they wanted to listen to.

Among the 20 storytellers in Shanghai are a young hearing-impaired woman, a retiree from Shanghai Shipyard and a video game blogger. When they were recruited, Li and his colleagues interviewed each online. After a few rounds of interviews, they added new anecdotes and vivid details to the outline of their stories.

"Eventually we will take them back to the context of the theater, and let them tell about their lives with others doing the same on both sides," Li says.

Directing the production is different from working with professional actors, he adds.

"We don't want to adjust their postures or voices, but to inspire their wish to tell stories, identify themselves with what they are telling, and help them to think about life."

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