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November 10, 2009

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Home » Feature » Art and Culture

Gripping plays old and new

FIVE plays will be performed through next month. Tonight and tomorrow the classic "Intrigue and Love" by Frederich Schiller speaks of forbidden love. Michelle Zhang reports.

Old theatrical plays can still seduce us today with their timeless take on human relations. One of them is "Intrigue and Love," written by German philosopher and playwright Friedrich Schiller in 1783, to be staged at Pudong's Shanghai Oriental Art Center tonight.

Director Kerstin Jacobssen says the old classic, as a matter of fact, addresses many perplexities facing today's young people.

"It is like a foretelling about today's society more than 200 years ago," she says. "The problems between the two leading characters still exist between young couples nowadays, such as the differences between two families, pressures from parents and the concerns about other people's judgments."

The play depicts the doomed love between an aristocrat young man and a girl of humble birth, whose relationship is not accepted by tradition. A malicious intrigue is set up by their parents and people around them to separate the couple, with tragic results.

The play will be performed by German's leading theater company, the Meininger Theater, with a history of 178 years. It will be performed in German with Chinese subtitles.

It will be the first time the play has been performed in China in German, although it was first staged in the country 50 years ago in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of Schiller's birth. It has thus become one of the most well-known German literary works among Chinese.

Audience and critics have praised the play's depiction of young aristocrat Ferdinand's revolt against princely authority, his demand for freedom and pursuit of individuality.

The director has condensed the play and added lively performances to make the old classic more entertaining. The stage setting is simple: a table with three chairs and a violin placed against a pillar is the home of Miller, the musician and father of Louise, Ferdinand's beloved. A purple-colored armchair represents the aristocratic society.

"Intrigue and Love" will be staged for two nights only in Shanghai before it moves to Beijing. After that, four more plays will be staged in the Shanghai Oriental Art Center through the end of the year.

They range from star-studded original productions to Henrik Ibsen's "Peer Gynt."

Four more plays

"Although small-theater drama productions are favored by Shanghai theatergoers nowadays, many sophisticated members of the audience still seek higher quality, large-scale productions," says Wang Ying from Shanghai Oriental Art Center.

Ibsen's classic "Peer Gynt" will be performed in Chinese by veteran actor Sun Haiying and actress Lu Liping, who are married in real life. It will be the first time the famous couple has worked together on the stage.

Meanwhile, "Love on a Two-Way Street," the latest work by Taiwanese director Stan Lai, will be staged over the weekend, starring popular Taiwanese star Ken Chu who plays the leading role of a man who struggling to deal with two "wives."

Lai's Performance Workshop is widely considered as Taiwan's leading contemporary theater group and one of the most influential theater groups in the Chinese-language theater scene.

Lai's previous plays were well received in Shanghai, such as "The Peach Blossom Land" and "Millennium Teahouse."

Hong Kong director Edward Lam will stage a comedy "Man and Woman, War and Peace," starring Hong Kong singer Denise Ho and Taiwanese actress Ariel Lin. Both Ho and Lin are rising pop stars in China. The play, to be staged at the end of the year, aims to attract young office workers.

Last but not least, another established Hong Kong director, Ann Hsu, will re-stage Eileen Chang's signature work "Record of a Golden Lock," first staged in Shanghai about three years ago.

The script was written and adapted by famed Shanghainese writer Wang Anyi. Hsu takes an innovative approach to telling the story of a woman's tragedy. The leading role will be played by veteran Hong Kong actress Perry Chiu.

"Intrigue and Love"

Date: October 10-11, 7:15pm

Tickets: 80-380 yuan (40 yuan for students)

"Love on a Two Way Street"

Date: October 13-15, 7:15pm

Tickets: 180-680 yuan

"Record of a Golden Lock"

Date: December 4-6, 7:15pm

Tickets: 80-680 yuan

"Peer Gynt"

Date: December 24-25, 7:15pm

Tickets: 80-680 yuan

"Man and Woman, War and Peace"

Date: December 29-31, 7:15pm

Tickets: 180-880 yuan

Address: 425 Dingxiang Rd, Pudong

Tel: 6854-1234


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