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Taming a new shrew

By Chen Nan (China Daily)

10:23, April 16, 2012

If William Shakespeare lived now, what would he think of today's love stories? That was the question that popped into the head of William Yip, founder and artistic director of Theater Noir in Hong Kong, during his visit to London three years ago.

"I was sitting in a cafe near Shakespeare's Globe and the idea was haunting me," he recalls. "Today's love stories are so different from those in Shakespeare's time. The pure, passionate love he wrote about is not easy to find in today any more."

Inspired, he started working on a 75-minute musical in English, called With Love, William Shakespeare, when he got back to Hong Kong.

He wants to show that love stories should be as simple as those written by Shakespeare.

After the successful premier in Hong Kong in February last year, Yip brought the English musical to Beijing and Shanghai, which intrigued some local theaters.

The musical has four independent love stories, including the romance between Romeo and Juliet, the sweet yet sour love triangle, the spicy relationship of newlyweds and a bitter divorce.

The stories reflect today's real love stories, such as the love triangle or even multi-angle, and the Princess Syndrome, which means women are dominators in the relationship and men behave like a women.

The stories are derived from Shakespeare's famed plays, Romeo and Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew and A Midsummer Night's Dream.

"I feel sad about those loves, which are twisted and abnormal," says Yip, 35, who is in an 11-year-long relationship. His girlfriend, whom he met in the university, is an actress and Yip says that though they've also had some problems, they know who they love.

When he was in the middle school, he attended a party celebrating the 50-year marriage anniversary of his grandpa and grandma. "Since then, I've been wanting to have a lasting love story," he recalls.

"I am not a love consultant and I don't want to educate the audiences. I just raise some questions and let the audiences think themselves," he says.

Born in Beijing and moved to Hong Kong at 6, Yip studied drama and directing at Butler University in the US city of Indianapolis. It was those years that made him learn Shakespeare and gave him a different perspective about the British writer.

"For me, Shakespeare's stories are classic and profound. However, I've seen some young directors interpret his plays with very avant-garde methods, which inspired me," he says. "His works can be interpreted with many possibilities and could progress with time."

At the end of the musical, the characters, who were classmates in university and loved reading Shakespeare, got back together. They complain that Shakespeare cheated them because there is no pure and loyal love. Then they receive a text message from Shakespeare, saying that love is bitter and torture, which make people cherish what they have.

"Such a great writer, who created so many touching love stories, might give some advice on today's people and their relationships," says Yip.

The musical will be staged in Beijing and then tour other cities in China.


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