[SZ]Drama festival reinterprets classics(Mar.20-31)
2013-March-19 Source: Szdaily web edition
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Scenes from "Cho Cho."

Scenes from "Salome."

Scenes from "Richard III."

A scene from "Richard III."

Drama aficionados all know the stories of Madame Butterfly and Richard III but, this month, they will enjoy a fresh interpretation of the classic figures at the two-week-long Shenzhen Drama Festival.

Organized by the CPC Shenzhen Municipal Committee's publicity department and Shenzhen 8CM Cultural Communication Co., the festival, which takes place from March 18 to 31, features free shows of traditional Chinese opera in local communities and low-priced performances including musicals, Beijing opera, dance and drama at Shenzhen Grand Theater and Huaxia Art Center.

From March 18 to 29, the drama in Mandarin, "PS I Love You," and performances of Huangmei opera — a form of rural folk song and dance that originated in Anhui Province over 200 years ago — will be staged at various local communities.

On March 20, 23 and 24, there will be performances of Beijing opera at Shenzhen Grand Theater. The March 20 show will be performed by students from Donghu Middle School and Luohu Zijing Art Troupe. "The Brocade Pouch" on March 23 will feature renowned Beijing opera actress Chi Xiaoqiu and musician Yan Shouping. The March 24 show includes classic routines by well-known artists.

"The Brocade Pouch" tells the story of Xue Xiangling who is both rich and kind. On her way to the groom's home on her wedding day, Xue meets Zhao Shouzhen, a poor girl who is getting married on the same day. The generous Xue gives Zhao her brocade jewelry pouch. Six years later Xue has to flee her hometown because of floods, and begins to work as a maid in a wealthy family. She finds out that the wife in the home is none other than Zhao, who still has the brocade pouch. Recalling Xue's generosity, Zhao treats Xue as an honored guest and helps her reunite with her family.

This year's festival aims to serve as a bridge between domestic and international drama troupes. The bilingual play "Cho Cho" is a co-production of the National Theater of China, Arts Center Melbourne and PlayKing Productions, and will be performed March 31 at Shenzhen Grand Theater, simultaneously in English and Chinese.

Written by Daniel Keene and directed by Peter Wilson, "Cho Cho" is a modern telling of the Madame Butterfly story but, unlike Giacomo Puccini's original opera, this play is set in Shanghai in the 1930s and turns the tragic Japanese geisha Cio-Cio San into a Chinese Cho Cho.

Combining the talents of Australia's leading musical theater performer, Scott Irwin (U.S. sailor Pinkerton), with those of Chinese singer Wang Zheng (Cho Cho) might already be enough for an engaging show, but what makes "Cho Cho" extraordinary is that puppets designed by Wilson are included as Cho Cho's daughter and Cho Cho's soul. The puppeteers are visible on the stage as narrators.

"There were so many new ways of fascinating storytelling," said Wilson, who has been involved in puppetry since 1975. "I studied acting, but I wasn't good with words. Puppetry had great possibilities of using a more visual dance form."

Audience members may be taken aback by this mixing of cultures, but the new adaptation of "Richard III" will take their breath away as William Shakespeare's Richard III will be seen wearing a traditional Chinese outfit.

This play is in Mandarin and produced by the National Theater of China. It was staged in London last year at the Globe to Globe Festival, which attracted troupes from around the world to perform Shakespeare's works in 37 languages as a celebration of his birthday.

Classified as a tragedy, "Richard III" depicts the Machiavellian rise to power and subsequent short reign of Richard III of England. One highlight of the two-and-a-half-hour Chinese version is to turn Richard from a handicapped person into a normal one. Wang Xiaoying, director of the play and vice president of the theater, said: "We didn't want to make Richard III's disability a reason behind his desire for power. A person who has a strong desire for power doesn't have to find an excuse from his handicapped body."

All the characters in the play wear ancient Chinese robes. When Richard has a nightmare, the ghosts surrounding him all put on masks with Beijing opera makeup.

Wang has also added many elements of ancient Chinese folk performances and ink paintings into the play. Traditional Chinese instruments create an effect of tension and mystery. Wang said that the drumbeats not only express the tempo of the play, but also reflect the emotion of different characters.

Apart from the two adaptations from Western classics, the modern dance "Salome" based on Oscar Wilde's play will be staged by Beijing Nine Contemporary Dance Theater.

Some shows are free (see schedule below) and the tickets can be obtained at Shenzhen Grand Theater's box office. Other shows are priced at 80-200 yuan.


Beijing opera (free)

Time: 8 p.m., March 20

Venue: Shenzhen Grand Theater

Mandarin play "Rotation"

Time: 8 p.m., March 21-22

Venue: Huaxia Art Center

Beijing opera "The Brocade Pouch"

Time: 8 p.m., March 23

Venue: Shenzhen Grand Theater

Beijing opera routines

Time: 8 p.m., March 24

Venue: Shenzhen Grand Theater

Play "Richard III"

Time: 7:50 p.m., March 27

Venue: Shenzhen Grand Theater

Dance "Salome" (free)

Time: 8 p.m., March 29

Venue: Shenzhen Grand Theater

Musical "Cho Cho" (free)

Time: 8 p.m., March 31

Venue: Shenzhen Grand Theater


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Editor: Jecey
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