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400 years on, Tang and Shakespeare brought closer together

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-10-19 11:20 Comments

400 years on, Tang and Shakespeare brought closer together

Photo taken on Oct 12, 2016 shows the copper sculpture of Chinese playwright Tang Xianzu and British writer William Shakespeare at the commemorative museum of Tang Xianzu in Fuzhou of East China's Jiangxi province.[Photo/Xinhua]


Steve Ansell has his theory about how Shakespeare gained popularity around the world.

"He was English at a time when we had an empire. We ambled around the entire world taking Shakespeare with us. ... Everybody in the world knows William Shakespeare. That's never going to change," said Ansell, artistic director of stage@leeds in the UK.

In comparison, Tang is less known. In China, Tang is ranked as one of the three masters who died in the same year, along with Shakespeare and Spanish writer Cervantes.

"I'm sure many more Chinese students know and probably study Shakespeare than study Tang Xianzu," Ansell said.

Susan Adams, chair of Stratford-upon-Avon Council, said that she hadn't heard of Tang until last year.

Ansell first got to know about Tang two years ago, when he became artistic director of Tang's play "Dreaming under the Southern Bough."

It is a traditional play depicting a man who dreamed of entering an ant kingdom, before marrying a princess and gaining status, and then being expelled.

In Ansell's version, the hero is a western soldier returning from the Iraq war. The main characters wore western costumes.

"We modernized the story," Ansell said. "It is about now, but it's the same story that Tang tells. I hope it is more appealing to the younger generation."

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