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'Made in China' on stage

By Lu Qianwen (Global Times)

09:13, July 26, 2012

Director Li Liuyi

While most people are familiar with the "Made in China" label adorning many products, the "Made in China Drama Performance" program, initiated by Chinese director Li Liuyi from Beijing People's Art Theatre (BPAT), hopes to challenge ideas of what "Made in China" means.

"'Made in China' products used to refer to mass produced physical materials of low quality," said Li. "But this program aims to show that we are capable of more. There will be a series of inspirational, high-quality productions," he told the Global Times.

Covering six dramas from China and Greece, the program, which started in late June, is expected to run for the next three years. The latest play, Antigone, an ancient Greece tragedy by Sophocles, is expected to stage a pre-show late this month.

East-West dialogue

"It's a 'Made in China' product, but it's also a dialogue between the East and West," Li said.

Li chose three ancient Greek tragedies, Antigone, Oedipus the King by Sophocles, and Prometheus Bound by Aeschylus as representatives from Western civilization.

To represent the East, Li chose King Gesar, an epic from Tibet based on Tibetan folktales, legends, folk songs and proverbs. Gesar is the fearless ruler of the legendary kingdom of Ling.

The performance of King Gesar will be divided into three separate dramas and staged independently. Hu Jun, one of China's leading actor, will play Gesar.

Like Greek epics, Indian epics and Kalevala, King Gesar represents the highest achievement of ancient Tibetan culture and has been in circulation for centuries. It is the longest heroic epic in the world, with more than 1 million verses, 20 million words, and 29 chapters.

It is one of the few "living" epics in the world. Originating between 200 BC and 300 BC, it has been passed down orally for many generations.

Even today, the epic is still widespread among Tibetan people, particularly farmers and herdsmen.

Over the next three years, Li and his team will explore the significance of these ancient works in contemporary society, transcending time and space.

"Ancient Greek dramas deliver the noble spirit of humanity, while King Gesar sings of the kindness in the human heart," said Li. "We hope to inspire people through these plays."



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