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Provocative and touching dramas

NO more light comedy. No more farce. No more "whodunits." Drama producers in Shanghai think it's time for people to go to the theater for something deeper and more serious.

"I believe the audience's appreciation for drama has reached such a level that they need plays that will make them ponder even when they leave the theater," says Yu Rongjun, vice general manager of the Shanghai Drama Arts Center.

The theater company will stage the Chinese version of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play "Doubt" by John Patrick Shanley, first staged in 2004 at the Manhattan Theater Club Off-Broadway. It then moved to the Walter Kerr Theater on Broadway in 2005 and staged more than 500 performances.

The acclaimed 2008 film "Doubt" stars Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Set in a Catholic school in Bronx, New York, in 1964, the play centers on school Principal Sister Aloysius, a rigidly conservative nun who grows suspicious when she thinks that Father Flynn, a charismatic priest, is paying "too much personal attention" to Donald Miller, the only black student in the school.

She then sets off on a personal crusade to look for the truth and to bring down Father Flynn. Is she being too protective or not protective enough? Did he do it or didn't he?

"With its rich texture and absorbing intrigue, the award-winning play will challenge the thinking of the audience," says director Zhou Ke. "It gives us a chance to feel the power of the soul when looking for the truth."

The play won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the Tony Award for Best Play and the New York Drama Critics' Circle Best Play in 2005.

There are only four characters: Sister Aloysius, Father Flynn, Sister James, a young, enthusiastic but inexperienced teacher and Donald Miller's mother.

Veteran local actress and actor Song Yining and Zhou Yemang will play the two leading characters. Song says she has been under great pressure since she took the role. "Because I'm too much into the character," she says.

"I love the character once I watched the play and then the film adaptation starring Meryl Streep," she adds. "It is a character difficult to depict but also one that every actress would long for."

"Tian Mi Mi" ("Sweet as Honey"), adapted from a very popular Chinese TV series of the same name, will premiere in Shanghai tonight. It's about love between two "intellectual youth" during the "cultural revolution" (1966-76). Young urban people in China at that time were sent to mountainous areas and farming villages to learn from the workers and farmers.

The play features an all-star cast, with the leading characters played by renowned Taiwan actress Ruby Lin and Chinese mainland actor Sha Yi.

"Tian Mi Mi"

Date: Today-May 9, 7:30pm

Venue: Shanghai Majestic Theater, 66 Jiangning Rd

Tickets: 180-680 yuan

Tel: 5466-6818


Date: May 12-June 6 (closed on Mondays), 7:30pm

Venue: Shanghai Drama Arts Theater, 288 Anfu Rd

Tickets: 120-150 yuan

Tel: 6473-0123


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