Alexander Morfov >> news >> 09.07.2018 

TNB's "The Tempest" premieres in Beijing, China 

     The production "The Tempest" staged by Alexander Morfov at the I. L. Caragiale National Theatre of Romania, Bucharest (2014), had its premiere in China. It was selected for the programme of the International Theatre Festival organised by the National Theatre of People's Art in BeijingSince 2011 the theatre's been hosting the festival which has become a landmark event for theatre art from around the world for local audience presenting shows from USA, Europe, Russia, Taiwan, Macao. 

     Companies from Poland, Russia, Lithuania, Romania and France were invited to participate in this year's 8th edition while Morfov's "The Tempest" marked the grand opening of the festival with three shows on 22nd, 23rd and 24th June. 

     Presenting a Shakespearean play to the Chinese audience was a huge challenge as the roots of Asian theatre date back to Shakespeare's age answered by the renowned playwright Tang Xianzu (1550 - 1616) of the Ming Dynasty. Though familiar to the readers, Alexander Morfov's production was the first staging of Shakespeare's "The Tempest" to ever take place in China. 

     A comedy of illusion, a romance - a text about power and revenge, this play is beyond any interpretation. It outreaches the laws, known to men, it presents a fairy tale about controlling the elements and allying with nature, mastering the spirits and bringing love and forgiveness. Morfov's immersive staging is full of lively rhythm, humour, emotions, and music that echoes in your mind long after leaving the theatre hall. TNB's "The Tempest" is a spectacular image of the live-giving magnitude of art and imagination. 

     In Morfov's version the love story of Miranda (Crina Semciuc) and Ferdinand (Ciprian Nicula) has a contemporary sounding. Comedy, dance, poetry, ambiance, fantasy, fireworks and boldness are employed by the director for building a bridge between different cultural traditions and between classical and modern theatre. 

Theatre is a living being, its nature is to evolve.

It keeps calling for new ideas, demanding new forms.

This production is borne from our shared

imagination - director's and actors'.

 

~ Ion Caramitru

actor in the leading role of Prospero, and

manager of the I. L. Caragiale Theatre

     Subtitles in Chinese, translated by Shang Xiaolei and Pang Jiyang, were screened throughout the performances which helped the viewers understand and appreciate the production in its dramaturgical integrity. The shows ended with expected long applause and deserved curtain calls. "On stage, we always keep the emotion as it is an organic element of our job but every time we present a production abroad to an audience which does not speak the language there is a gap of understanding. There is also the fear of not being understood when you perform for an audience with different civilizational traditions. Of course, translation helps, but this production also has its own universal language." - admits Caramitru. 

     The tour was with the financial support of the Romanian Cultural Institute in Beijing. "This exceptional production has a significant international success. Its director Alexander Morfov combines traditional approach with modern sense of humor and emotions. The Beijing audience was impressed and watched the show in silence and fascination for more than three hours." - they commented. The Beijing premiere of "The Tempest" was attended by representatives of both Bulgarian and Romanian diplomatic missions, as well as by the director Constantin Lupeanu. 

The team of "The Tempest" welcomed at the International Theatre Festival hosted by the National Theatre of People's Art in Beijing

Master Ion Caramitru in the role of Prospero (to the right)

The Duke of Milan, Prospero, and his daughter, Miranda, are exiled to an island after Prospero's brother, Antonio, seizes power. Years later Prospero, who possesses certain spiritual powers, comes to know that his brother is on a ship near the island with a group of friends and supporters, returning from his daughter's wedding. He starts a sea storm during which Antonio's crew falls apart into separate groups, each assuming for the others to have died in the storm. A series of plots - for gaining power or defeating a rival, ultimately for the same reason, leads Prospero to a winning position - outgrowing his spiritual aims, ensuring a loving husband for his daughter, letting his island servants (Caliban and Ariel) free and forgiving his brother. 

Click on the images for actual size.   

The press conference was hosted by the renowned Chinese actor 

Pu Cunxin who will soon begin rehearsals for the role of Prospero.

* * *

     The admiration of the viewers was no surprise as it is not the first time "The Tempest" tours abroad. It was presented to the audience in Budapest as well as in Thessaloniki last summer at the International Forest Festival, held in Dassous Theatre. 

"It was a great show!" 

"Romanian theatre is brilliant!" 

"I truly enjoyed it, Romanian actors have excellent skills!" 

Luo Dongquan, reporter for the China Radio

International shares some of the viewers' reactions

 

     In his review, Shi Chunyang comments on the dialogue between antiquity and modernity in Morfov's staging. "Adapting a Shakespearean play to the perceptions of today's viewer is not an easy task and it reveals the director's mastery." His fantasy unfolds over costumes and music as well, where the local islanders are dressed in jeans while the sailsmen arrive in clothes which are closer to the renaissance aesthetics. Music also varies from lyrical string instruments to pop, Indian and Latin. The director has created a successful production, sharing with us a dream, rather than just a story. "His version of the play is a pioneering undertaking", Chunyang concludes. 

< To the left: The National Theatre of Beijing was founded in 1952 by Cao Yu - a playwright regarded as one of the most significant theatre figures for 20th century's Chinese theatre. It has more than 900 seats and is located on the Wangfujing shopping street. More than 300 productions have been staged here, in various dramaturgical genres - raging from classical Chinese tales to Moliere. Since the mid-80's and under the management of Jiao Yuyi the "Capital Hall", as it is known, has developed its own stylistics and accomplished notable artistic achievements. Its policy in the most recent years is focused on experimental theatre and laboratories intended to familiarise people with this art. Capital Hall is visited by millions of viewers each year. 

     The International Theatre Festival in Beijing held by the National Theatre of People's Art was officially closed last night. This is the second time for Alexander Morfov to be invited to the National Theatre in Beijing. The previous show at the Capital Hall was part of the festival's selection for the edition in 2013. Morfov presented his "Dom Juan" staged at  the Gesher Theatre in Tel Aviv, Israel (2011).

"Dom Juan", starring the magnificent Israel Demidov. To the right > 

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