Author: GUO Shixing
Translators: Xiaoxin Wang and Jem Jia
Time: 14: 30 PM – 15: 00 PM CET, Dec. 9th
Venue: The Conference and Event Center is located at Alte Mensa, Wilhelmspl. 3, 37073 Göttingen.
Casts: Svenja Isabel Hudson, Zixuan Ni, Carlos Franke, Michelle Koprow
Guo Shixing was born in Beijing in the year of 1952. He is a playwright of the National Theater of China, known as one of the most important contemporary playwrights, and serves as a visiting professor at the Liberal Arts School of Nanjing University and the Shanghai Theater Academy. It can be said that he can be praised as “China’s contemporary Dürrenmatt.”
The famous theater director Lin Zhaohua once commented, “There is an outstanding playwright in the contemporary Chinese theater, and he is Guo Shixing. I think we haven’t paid enough attention to his plays. I was lucky, in the 1980s I met Gao Xingjian, and in the 1990s, I met Guo Shixing. His plays are so thoughtful and in-depth in terms of content, rather than conceptually expressing any problems.”
The majority of Guo Shixing’s plays take a paradoxical view of the plight of human existence to express the alienation of human beings. Combining the “grotesque world” and “witty language” in one, these plays are full of the comic spirit. When they are presented, they always attract strong attention from the theatre community and are loved by critics. His main works include The Bird Man, with a bird market as the main scene; Alive or Dead, with a crematorium as the main scene; A Street of Bad Words, with a hutong where slander is a livelihood; The Frog, with a barbershop swallowed by the sea as the main scene; Toilet, with three public toilets of different styles from different eras as the scene; The Imperial Train, with the train on which the Empress Dowager Cixi returned to her hometown to honour ancestors as a mobile office scene; The Will, with an old man on his deathbed asking son to meet his first love. He has also written and directed by himself more than a dozen works, including The Blizzard, an absurd story about a drug-carrying absentee worker who becomes a “snowplow hero”. And some plays directed by him such as Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage and Jean-Claude Carrière’s Checklist (L’Aide-mémoire).
His plays have been translated into French, German, Hebrew, Japanese, Korean, and many other languages. Among them, The Frog was performed by the New National Theatre in Japan (2006); The Will was performed by the Open Theatre in Norway (2006); The Toilet was read by the Summer Comedy Festival in France and broadcast by Radio France Internationale (2005), and the play was performed both in Israel and Germany; The Birdman was read by the Comédie-Française (2004), becoming the first reading of a Chinese writer by the theatre in nearly four centuries. (Translated by Sishi Cao)
The woman: Make your will, the time has come to discuss the price again in a lifetime.
The old man: You remember it.
［Woman with a digital video recorder aimed at the old man.
The old man: In today’s commodity society, my heir needs to have the following qualities: never believe in love so that he does not clear the debt on the last day of his life or harm his emotional communication with someone. My wife is my first heir. I am considering her job to contact people so much that the provenance of my son is untraceable. There is no need a DNA testing. He can be considered the second heir, God’s delivery to me. It has been proved in science that the human gene is no more complex than that of worms, with only two more pairs of chromosomes. Please forgive me for forgetting the Latin name of this worm, so The test is not helpful. It’s already a blessing for my family that he belongs to the primate.
The woman: This is species discrimination and should be deleted.
The old man: Agreed. He must take care of his mother and bury her with me later. I can’t live till today without his mother. The will is effective as of today. It is not only proved by words, there are images and sounds …
［Son falls from the shadows and drops to his knees.
The son: Mom…!
［The sound of the waves suddenly fades and there is silence. The light fades and there are one or two cries of seagulls.