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Stage set for new Odyssey

By Chen Nan | China Daily | Updated: 2019-06-24 07:15

Thalia Theatre's Die Odyssee (The Odyssey) is a contemporary reinterpretation of Homer's historical poetic masterpiece, which will be staged at this year's Theatertreffen in China. [Photo provided to China Daily]

On Sept 22, 1922, German playwright and theater practitioner Bertolt Brecht premiered his work, Trommeln in der Nacht, in Munich. Almost a century later, Christopher Ruping, the in-house director at Munchner Kammerspiele, is staging the story that follows the protagonist, Andreas Kragler, who returns home from war to discover his former lover is engaged to another man-and he is forced to make a choice between revolution or love.

In the 1922 premiere, the protagonist deserts his fellow soldiers in favor of his lover. But even while Brecht was writing the play, and to some extent for the rest of his life, he struggled with his ending to Trommeln in der Nacht. In this production, Ruping poses the question: What would have happened if Kragler had chosen revolution over love?

"In 2018, we found that many stories in German theaters revolved around the subject of exiles and refugees, so we focused last year's Berliner Theatertreffen around those issues," says Margarete Affenzeller, theater critic and a jury member of the Berliner Theatertreffen, in Beijing.

The two plays being staged at this year's Theatertreffen in China were selected by five jury members from China and Germany, including Thomas Oberender, managing director of the Berliner Festspiele, Chen Ping, former culture affairs attache at the Chinese embassy in Germany and Chinese theater director, Meng Jinghui.

"It's our task as jury members for Theatertreffen in China to not only find plays that are likely to appeal to Chinese audiences, but also find works that will epitomize the broad range of theater performances that can be seen in Germany throughout the course of the year," says Chen. "During the past few years, around 30 German theatrical productions have come to China as part of our efforts to promote cultural exchanges between the two countries."

In 2015, Wu Promotion launched a five-year partnership with Berliner Theatertreffen to bring productions from theater festivals in German-speaking countries to China from 2016 to 2020.

Other highlights will be screening of video documentation of theatre productions, which runs through July 7 at Goethe-Institut China, which is part of the renowned German global cultural organization offering language classes, training for teachers, library resources and information services about Germany, as well as cultural programs around China since it was established in Beijing in 1988.

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