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Shylock, ancient mariner and puppets on stage
By Nie Xin

THREE contemporary Western stage plays will be performed in English and Chinese in the spectacular Art Deco setting of 1933 Old Millfun in the north Bund area. Nie Xin reports.

Shylock," based on the "Merchant of Venice," the wildly innovative puppet drama "The Table" and "The Ancient Mariner" will be performed in the Western Contemporary Drama Season starting Thursday at the 1933 Old Millfun in Hongkou District.

"The Table" and "The Ancient Mariner" will be performed in English, with "Shylock" in Chinese.

Opened in 2007, the 1933 Old Millfun on Shajing Road used to be the biggest abattoir in East Asia. Now the former slaughterhouse features a stunning new architecture design that has made it a landmark in the northern area of the Bund. The park often hosts art and lifestyle activities.

The drama season that ends in early November is the first cooperation between the Shanghai Drama Arts Center and the creative park, which contains two contemporary theaters - Mini Theater mostly for experimental plays and the Sky Theater on the fourth floor.

"We chose (Shanghai Drama Arts Center) because it is the city's best of its kind in dramatic creation and performing," says Wang Xiaolei, executive director of 1933 Old Millfun. "We not only just do it, but want to do the best."

The adapted "Shylock," based on Shakespeare's tragicomedy "The Merchant of Venice" (1598), is performed by Shanghai's Xinzhao Drama Studio, launched in 2009 by a group of non-professional dramatists.

The original "Shylock" was a one-character (Shylock) play, but reworked into a three-character play featuring Shylock, Antonio and Portia, played by Wang Jingxin, Li Yefei and Sun Jinhan (Portia). The play is directed by Wang Wei.

The play is most famous for the "Hath Not a Jew eyes?" speech by Shylock and Portia's speech about the "Quality of Mercy."

"It is a big challenge to represent this classic work and serious topic through drama," says producer Liu Lei. "We try to inspire the audience to explore beliefs, humanity and nationalities."

Moses the puppet

The second presentation, "The Table," will be performed in October by puppet innovators Blind Summit Theatre from the United Kingdom. The puppets regularly upstage the human characters.

It is the story of a puppet named Moses who is immobile, left behind on a table as he reflects on his life. He recalls how he got there, the people and puppets who have visited him, animated him and left him. It combines the dark humor of Beckett and the flat-pack technology of IKEA.

Moses considers what lies beyond.

Founded in 1997 by Mark Down and Nick Barnes, Blind Summit Theatre is reinventing puppetry for modern adult audiences and pioneering new methods of performing with puppets. "The Table" is their eighth original production.

The company is perhaps best known for creating the puppetry in Anthony Minghella's "Madam Butterfly," Simon McBurney's "A Dog's Heart," Complicite's "Shunkin," as well as their own genre-breaking productions including "1984 at BAC." The company returns to its roots to deliver an intense, visually compelling show.

The third and final production of the drama season is "The Ancient Mariner" by Odense Internationale Musikteater from Denmark. Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" tells the story of a sailor who kills a benevolent albatross, bringing disaster on his ship and men. He is forced to travel the world through eternity and tell his tale.

The show is directed by Jon Anders Nyborg Pedersen and stars Christoffer Adrian Jordan, Bo J?rn Gryholt, Guy Andrew Moscoso, Mads R?mer Kristensen, Steffen Olav Johan-David F Schackinger, and Christian Baltzer.


Date: September 13-23 (no performances on Mondays), 7:30pm

Tickets: 80 yuan, 100 yuan

"The Table"

Date: October 30-31, 7:30pm

Tickets: 150 yuan, 280 yuan

"The Ancient Mariner"

Date November 1-4, 7:30pm

Tickets: 150 yuan, 280 yuan


Venue: Mini Theater of 1933 Old Mill, 611 Liyang Rd

Tel: 6888-1933 ext 2103, 962-388

How to get there: Exit 2 of Metro Line 4 or 10 Hailun Road Station

Customer Service: (86-21) 52920164