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April 29, 2010

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Curtain up on the young directors

YOUNG drama directors from Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong will showcase both original works and Western classics in the upcoming "Expo Season for Young Directors" organized by the city's Modern Drama Valley.

Nine plays will be staged in five theaters around the city over the next three weeks.

"The plays we've picked up this time represent the highlights of young directors' works from the three cities," says veteran director Meng Jinghui, who is also artistic director for the event.

"Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai are known as the three most advanced cities for contemporary drama development in China," he says. "Through the event, both the audience and the young drama workers themselves will have the chance to see various types of plays, the use of different techniques and the development trends."

It also provides the opportunity for young directors of different backgrounds to communicate directly with each other.

An information science graduate from Peking University, Beijing director Qiu Zehui rejected offers from firms such as IBM and Compaq to study directing at the Central Academy of Drama about 10 years ago.

Today, he is one of the most promising young directors from the capital, and he helped organize the Beijing Youth Drama Festival last year.

The play he brings to Shanghai this time, "Sun, Kill," was the opening play of the festival last year. It was adapted from Chinese poet Hai Zi's namesake work written in 1988. Hai Zi killed himself the following year.

"I first brought this play to the stage in 1999, when I was still a student at Peking University," Qiu says. "It is a play for those who still love the art of poetry, those who pursue their artistic dreams in the urban concrete jungle."

The play doesn't have a storyline. The director would rather describe it as "a symbolic play, a fatal tragedy." It takes place in the Kingdom of Babylon thousands of years ago and the main characters include a king, a princess, a witch and several young poets.

"The play is classic, poetic, glamorous, deep, shocking. We need this kind of drama," says director Meng.

"12 Angry Men" which is premiered tonight is Shanghai-based veteran dramatic actress Tian Shui's first directing work. Adapted from the 1957 movie, the play tells the story of a jury made up of men from various walks of life as they deliberate the guilt or innocence of a teenage defendant.

During their discussions, the group men reveal distinctive personalities and talk about their lives and background, adding conflict and intensity to the proceedings.

"It is a very cool play," says Tian. "The Shanghai drama scene is filled with light comedies talking about love all these years, and I think it's time for people to come to the theater for something serious, deep and intensive."

Tian says the two-hour play is all about the dialogue. "There is no change of the time or the place," she says. "We have nothing to count on but the performing skills of the actors."

Other highlights of the event include Hong Kong director Law Ching-man's "Waiting for the Match," depicting three men's different approaches to finding their Mrs Right, and Shanghai young director Liu Fangqi's drama comedy "The Style of the Upper Class," showcasing the various facets of young middle-class Shanghai people's lifestyles and their beliefs.

For ticket price inquiries and booking, call 962-388.

"12 Angry Men" (Shanghai)

Date: Today-May 16, 7:30pm

Venue: Shanghai Drama Arts Theater, 288 Anfu Rd

"Sun, Kill" (Beijing)

Date: May 8-9, 7:30pm

Venue: Shanghai Theater Academy Theater, 630 Huashan Rd

"Secret Heart" (Beijing)

Date: May 9-10, 7:30pm

Venue: Zhijiang Dream Studio, 555 Haifang Rd

"Waiting for the Match" (Hong Kong)

Date: May 11-12, 7:30pm

Venue: Shanghai Theater Academy Theater, 630 Huashan Rd

"The Play about A Dream" (Beijing)

Date: May 12-13, 7:30pm

Venue: Xinguang Arts Center, 586 Ningbo Rd

"Seven Boxes Possessed of Kafka" (Hong Kong)

Date: May 13-14, 7:30pm

Venue: Duanjun Theater, 630 Huashan Rd

"The Style of the Upper Class" (Shanghai)

Date: May 14-22, 7:30pm

Venue: Xinguang Arts Center, 586 Ningbo Rd

"Re-Birth" (Hong Kong)

Date: May 16-17, 7:30pm

Venue: Duanjun Theater, 630 Huashan Rd

"Dark Room" (Shanghai)

Date: May 15-16, 7:30pm

Venue: Zhijiang Dream Studio, 555 Haifang Rd


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