Drama Reading

The Will

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

Format: Hybrid

Short bio:

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)

过士行,1952年生于北京。中国国家话剧院编剧,中国当代最重要的剧作家之一,南京大学文学院、上海戏剧学院客座教授,被誉为“中国当代的迪伦马特”。著名戏剧导演林兆华曾这样评价:“中国当代剧坛上有一位杰出的剧作家,他就是过士行,我认为我们对过士行的作品还没有给予足够的重视。我很幸运,1980年代碰到了高行健,1990年代碰到了过士行,他的戏从内容上说有思想有深度,而不是概念化地去表现什么问题。” 过士行先生剧作大多以悖论的眼光看待人类生存的困境,表现人的异化,融“怪诞的世界”与“诙谐的语言”于一体,充满喜剧精神。这些剧作一经问世,总能引起戏剧界的强烈关注,也为评论家所钟情。主要作品包括:以鸟市为主要场景的《鸟人》;以火葬场为主景的《活着还是死去》;以诽谤为生的胡同《坏话一条街》;以被海水渐渐呑没的理发馆为主景的《青蛙》;以三个不同年代不同样式的公厕为景的《厕所》;以慈禧太后返乡祭祖的火车为移动办公场景的《帝国专列》;以老人临终前托儿子约见初恋情人为情境的《遗嘱》;以及自编自导作品——携带毒品的旷工成为“铲雪英雄”的荒诞故事《暴风雪》等十余部作品。曾执导戏剧作品包括英格玛·博格曼的《婚姻情境》和让·克劳德·卡里埃尔的《备忘录》等。其剧作曾被翻译为法语、德语、希伯来语、日语、韩语等多种语言。其中,《青蛙》被日本新国立剧场搬演(2006);《遗嘱》被挪威开放剧场搬演(2006);《厕所》被法国夏季风喜剧节朗读,法国国家广播电台播出(2005),该剧曾在以色列、德国演出;《鸟人》被法兰西喜剧院朗读(2004),是该剧院近四个世纪以来首次朗读中国作家作品。

Excerpt:

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 …

     Ringing loudly.

     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.

The End

05/8/1