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Actors know how to work a crowd

JEAN Christopher Mittelstaedt, 21, and Li Min, 24, are among five pairs that play Jens and Yan Yan in the "Energy Source" show at Germany Pavilion.

The two students are virtual narrators of the pavilion. The plot, written on standing boards throughout the pavilion, is about how Jens introduces his friend Yan Yan to the culture and lifestyle of his hometown.

The boards come to "life" in the Energy Source show, which features a 12-meter-high metal ball that is programmed to react to the movement and sound of visitors.

Mittelstaedt and Li also have different interpretations of the Jens and Yan Yan story. Li was surprised to find out that Mittelsatedt thought Jens and Yan Yan were more than friends ? they are interested in each other.

Mittelstaedt is in charge of delivering the English key words to sign technicians who control the metal ball while Li guides Chinese audiences. Mittelstaedt always improvises his own Chinese lines to keep the crowd interested.

"I've never worried about how to cheer up audiences or if they are responsive to my lines. You are all set as long as there are Chinese watching the show," Mittelstaedt told Shanghai Daily.

"I only had one show where the people were not responsive at all and it was a special session for German teachers and students."

Both Mittelstaedt and Li are both amazed by the passion and fun responses provided by Chinese visitors. During the show, Mittlestaedt has a standard line that asks, "Where are we?," as he introduces the Energy Source and the metal ball.

The answers he's heard include: "I'm here," "We are in China Pavilion" or "I'm not here," etc.

In the middle of the show, the screens on the metal ball display all kinds of plants like dandelions.

The character Yan Yan always picks someone from the audience to blow the dandelion away and Li - when the Expo first opened - usually got spit on her face when the visitor became overexcited.

She has since learned to stay to the side after making her selection.

Mittelstaedt is enrolled in the undergraduate program at Peking University and is studying finance. Unlike many foreign students who study in China or take Chinese classes, Mittelstaedt is a bachelor's degree candidate just like all his Chinese classmates.

He is one of two European undergraduate students at Peking University ? the other is Russian.

Like most Germany Pavilion employees, Mittelstaedt speaks fluent Chinese. He has also learned many Chinese idioms, some from his partner Li.

Li, a master's degree candidate at Fudan University, has become close with Mittelstaedt and the eight other actors since they spend so much time together.


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