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Learning from a master

By Liu Yinglun | China Daily | Updated: 2018-05-05 09:00

Japanese director Tadashi Suzuki brought the stage play Dionysus to the Great Wall Theater in 2015. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Legendary Japanese theater director Tadashi Suzuki, 78, is at the foot of the Simatai section of the Great Wall to share the secrets of his acting technique

Spines upright, arms held slightly apart from the torsos, and eyes gazing into the distance, 22 men in black T-shirts, shorts and white socks line up to march on a stage in circles, stomping hard on the ground to Japanese music.

Three meters away from the performers, a gray-haired man wearing black from the neck down, with the exception of white socks, watches from a red chair.

As soon as the music hits its last note, the man gets up from his chair and bellows to the performers in Japanese: "Fall naturally!" And this is followed by the thump of 22 human bodies hitting the ground simultaneously.

The gray-haired man is 78-year-old theater director Tadashi Suzuki, and the solemn performers are trainees at the 2018 Suzuki Method Actor Training Camp, which opened on April 10 at the Great Wall Theater at Beijing WTown, a holiday resort at the foot of the Simatai section of the Great Wall.

The 33 trainees at the camp, which ran through April 23, learned the Suzuki method of Actor Training, a technique that is taught in schools and theaters throughout the world, including at The Juilliard School in New York, the Moscow Art Theater and the Royal Shakespeare Company in the United Kingdom.

The Beijing camp was first held in 2016, and this is the third one that Suzuki and members of his theater company, the Suzuki Company of Toga, or SCOT, has taught at the Great Wall Theater. And it is the only Suzuki Method training program in the world supervised by the man himself, instead of his students.

"I come here because I'm happy to be in China," says Suzuki with a smile.

"And I'll come here for as many years as I can."

Suzuki says his love for the Great Wall Theater is the reason for supervising the actor training camps in China.

He says the theater, an open-air venue with 2,700 seats and two indoor rehearsal rooms, makes for a great teaching environment. Also, unlike the schools and theaters where he used to teach in other countries, the Great Wall Theater doesn't close as long as he is there, and he can use the space whenever and however he wants.

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