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Hamlet steps right into the city spotlight

ISRAEL'S Cameri Theater is bringing its acclaimed production of Hamlet to Shanghai where audiences will enjoy the thrill of an innovative production that has swept the theatrical world. Michelle Zhang goes behind the scenes

To be or not to be, that is the question." However, the innovative adaption of the Bard's "Hamlet" by the Tel Aviv-based Cameri Theater, Israel's largest theater company, is definitely "to be" for Shanghai's theater lovers.

Opening tonight at the Shanghai Drama Arts Theater, the play, in Hebrew with Chinese subtitles, runs just four nights. It is also the Asian premiere of the most acclaimed theatrical production from Israel in recent years, a production which won five Israeli awards in 2005, including the Best Production, Best Director and Best Actor.

Only 600 people will have the opportunity to watch this performance this time. The production features a very special stage, and special chairs too.

Traditional stages separate actors from the audience but this one links them. The stage extends like a catwalk into the audience; the actors °?- all 15 of them °?°?- move among the audience throughout the play; and the chairs °?- only 150 of them °?°?- swivel 360 degrees so that the audience can more easily follow the fast-flowing and lively performances (and subtitles) around them.

Premiered in 2005, Cameri Theater's "Hamlet" has been staged more than 800 times around the world, according to Amir Lati, deputy consul general of the Consulate General of Israel, Shanghai.

"I believe that it will be a feast for all theater lovers in Shanghai."

The Jerusalem Post says, "'Hamlet' is the prince in Israel's theater world," while Plays International UK says: "This production is undoubtedly the best thing the Israeli theater has seen in many years."

Itai Tiran, a 26-year-old Israeli actor, plays Hamlet and his performance has been praised by critics around the world as "one of those actors that emerge once in a generation" (Ha'aretz, January 2005), and "one of the greatest Hamlets I have ever seen on stage and I have seen quite a few in my time." (Rivka Jacobson, The British Theater Guide).

In modern dress, the charismatic actor will also display his musical talents by playing pieces from "Carmen" and "The Magic Flute" on a grand piano as part of the play.

According to Lati, the Cameri Theater is one of the most important theaters in Israel. It has won the Israel Prize for its contribution to Israeli culture.

Founded in 1944, the theater stages up to 10 new productions a year, as well as its standard repertoire. Every year, it plays to more than 900,000 spectators in Tel Aviv, throughout Israel and all over the world.

In 2006, the Cameri Theater staged another of its productions, "Requiem," in Beijing to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Capital Theater in the capital city.

"I really hope that more theater companies from Israel can come to China and vice versa," Lati continues. "Hopefully such cultural communication will work as a bridge between the two countries."

Date: March 11-12, 14-15, 7:30pm

Venue: Shanghai Drama Arts Theater, 288 Anfu Rd

Ticket: 200 yuan

Tel: 6473-0123


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