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French actors thrive on the drama of China

By Xu Lin (China Daily)

13:26, June 19, 2013

(China Daily)

For the Beijing-based French actors Karim Oyarzabal (left) and Lionel Baraban, being able to act onstage again and restart their careers in the Chinese capital is the peak of excitement.

They finished the Chinese premier of the hit French play Cravate Club (Members Only) in Beijing, as part of the French cultural festival, the Croisements Festival. The two-man show is about disputes between two close friends, and is performed in French, with English and Chinese subtitles.

The 45-year-old Baraban was a full-time actor for nearly 15 years in France and the United States and started a high-tech company after he moved to China about four years ago.

"The connection between the two is expressing your ideas. We need to act all the time to be convincing," he says.

Oyarzabal and Baraban moved to the city due to their wives' jobs and met because of their common interest in drama. After getting to know Fabrice Roger-Lacan, the author of Cravate Club, in 2012, they planned to put it onstage. The show has been performed in many countries, including Germany and Spain.

"Being an actor in a foreign country is not that easy - even a nightmare at the beginning," says Oyarzabal, who has played in several French and English productions in Beijing and performed some minor roles in Chinese TV series.

The 47-year-old says TV production in China is professional and efficient but foreign actors' recruitment is murky.

"It is not as easy to find well-organized auditions online as in Paris and London," Oyarzabal says. He has to rely on agents who call him on short notice about the next day's audition.

Oyarzabal spent one and a half years connecting with the local acting circle.

Barabaqn was surprised by the hospitality, when he first came to China.

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