Tuesday, February 25, 2014

这是什么地方

Understood some more overheard Chinese tonight!
这是什么地方 
(What is this place?), an unpoetic line in the Hangzhou Yue Opera's adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's "Hedda Gabler." An all-female traditional Chinese opera company and Ibsen? It works better than you might expect. In the talkback (after Hedda is all danced out and stabs herself with this sword) a company director told us that Shakespeare and Ibsen are the most beloved western playwrights in China. "Ibsenism" was brought in by early 20th century modernizers, who wanted spoken theater to take the place of traditional Chinese arts like opera. In 2006, however, the anniversary both of Ibsen's death and the founding of Hangzhou Yue, it seemed entirely natural to adapt "Hedda Gabler." I think it was effective. Good thing: I'm seeing their "The Lady from the Sea" tomorrow, too!

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