Beijing Today 9-10-2010

 

Experimental Director Soars Again

Chu Meng

 

Experimental-theater director Wang Chong will present the China premiere of Hamletmachine, the most popular postmodern work of the 1970s, at the 2010 Youth Theater Festival next Tuesday.

The highlight of his latest work, Wang says, is the interpretation of the spirit of a surrealist Western drama through Peking Opera.

“I am directing a performance that explores the physicality of Peking Opera in a postmodern way,” the 28-year-old Beijing native said during his troupe’s final rehearsal at Fengchao Theater last Friday. “Both of my actors are Peking Opera performers, who are contributing something new to experimental theater.”

Thanks to his English skills, Wang himself translated most of the original script, written in 1977 by Germany’s Heiner Müller, described as “20th century theater’s greatest living poet.”

The drama, loosely based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, does not possess a conventional plot. The story is tied together through sequences of monologues, where Hamlet steps out of his role and reflects on being an actor.

Though difficult to understand and even harder to interpret into contemporary theater, Wang chose to take on one of Müller’s “enigmatic, fragmentary piece” as it resonated with him.

Besides, Wang says, translation is never word-to-word replacement; rather, it is reproduction. “As an experimental-theater director, original scripts for me are just words,” Wang says. “They are only platforms from which to launch myself. I can fly high and wild, with great flexibility and in different forms … and since no other person knows me better than myself, I enjoy doing (the translations) myself.”

Wang is acknowledged as one of the most prolific artists of contemporary Chinese theater. His company Théatre du Rêve Expérimental, established in 2008, has staged the Chinese versions of plays such as Sara Kane’s Crave, Peter Handke’s Self-Accusation and the mainland premiere of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues.

Wang’s e-Station, which debuted at the 2008 Beijing Fringe Festival, toured North America last summer, making Théatre du Rêve Expérimental the youngest Chinese theater group to tour internationally.