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Friends use festival to stage theater dreams

By Chen Nan | China Daily | Updated: 2024-05-13 07:49
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Five Acts of Life: Lao She's Short Stories, directed by Lin Xiyue, marking the 125th birth anniversary of Chinese writer Lao She (1899-1966), will be staged during the Aranya Theater Festival in Qinhuangdao, Hebei province, this June. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Partnership built up over decades helps duo create a wave of enthusiasm for seaside spectacle, Chen Nan reports.

While he was studying acting at the Central Academy of Drama in Beijing during the 1990s, Chen Minghao got to know theater director Meng Jinghui, who also graduated from the same university.

They met one day while Chen was playing soccer. "Meng came over and spoke to me. He wanted me to accept a role in his play. When I asked for the script, he told me that he didn't have one yet," Chen says, adding that Meng asked him whether he'd like to be part of the production or not.

"He said that we could work on the script together, and create a great play."

With no idea what Meng planned to do, Chen nodded. It was the start of a decadeslong collaboration that Chen describes as "crazy".

Fast forward several decades, and Meng has become one of the country's leading and most pioneering theater directors, while Chen not only appears on stage in various theaters, and in movies and TV dramas, but has also become a director himself.

The pair appeared in Beijing last month for the announcement of the third edition of the Aranya Theater Festival, where they both serve as artistic directors.

The festival, which also has well-known actress Zhang Ziyi as an artistic director, will take place by the sea at the Aranya community in Qinhuangdao, Hebei province, from June 20 to 30. It will bring together 29 theater productions from China and abroad for more than 100 performances.

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