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Polish director to bring award-winning show based on Shakespeare's work to Beijing

By Chen Nan | China Daily | Updated: 2019-09-21 09:05

Polish director Grzegorz Bral and Song of the Goat Theatre will bring their award-winning show, Songs of Lear, on Oct 19 and 20 at Tianqiao Performing Arts Centre. [Photo provided to China Daily]

When Polish director Grzegorz Bral and Song of the Goat Theatre made their debut in China by performing Portraits of the Cherry Orchard, during the Wuzhen Theater Festival in 2015 in the namesake ancient town located in Zhejiang province, audiences were immersed in the atmosphere created by the director. Combining a story based on Anton Chekhov's drama, The Cherry Orchard, Bral brought characters alive onstage with music and dance. The work was staged for three consecutive nights and became one of the surprise hits of 2015's Wuzhen Theater Festival.

Now, Bral and the theater will come to Beijing to perform their award-winning show, Songs of Lear on Oct 19 and 20 at Tianqiao Performing Arts Centre after a stop in Shanghai on Oct 12 and 13. In September 2017, the show was staged in Shanghai for the first time.

With 12 women and men performers wearing simple, black outfits while chanting and weaving raw physicality and emotion, Songs of Lear is based on William Shakespeare's tragedy, King Lear and composed by Jean-Claude Acquaviva and Maciej Rychly.

With the performers using folk instruments, cappella singing in Latin, English and Polish, and choreography, the performance showcases the madness, despair, disappointment, love of the characters.

Speaking about the show, Bral says: "Music plays the core role in Songs of Lear. And the ensemble members have chosen crucial scenes from King Lear to weave a story out of gestures, words and music. Each song is a starting point for another 'dramatic poem'. Here, the music becomes character, relationships and events," adding that the creative process has been divided into several phases: preparation of the concert, dramatizing the songs, creating movement and visual structures, integrating text, music and movement and finally molding the performance into a mature shape.

Since it premiered at the 2012 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where it received three awards, including a UK Musical Theatre Matters Special Award, Songs of Lear is a constantly evolving creative research project in which audience may witness a very intimate artistic process.

Further describing the show, Bral says: "It sounds like oratorio. But there are many elements of classical music, and this performance is the original work of its creators."

Bral, a graduate of the Polish language and literature studies program, which he pursued at the University of Gdansk, Maria Curie-Sklodowska University in Lublin and the University of Wroclaw, also studied psychology at the Catholic University of Lublin and theater studies at the Theatre Academy in Warsaw.

In 1996, together with Anna Zubrzycka, the former lead actress at the Centre of Gardzienice, he founded Song of the Goat Theatre and trained his actors and actresses with his "coordination technique", a concept he developed to combine intense acting training with music, text, voice, body and imagination.

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