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Sequel to Thunderstorm set to strike audiences

By Chen Nan | China Daily | Updated: 2020-10-10 09:56

Actress Shi Ke plays the role of Fanyi in Thunderstorm II.[Photo provided to China Daily]

"I was so scared that I started to cry when I first heard the noise of the thunderstorm emanating from the stage. My father tucked me under his arm and dashed out the theater. I understood later that he didn't want my crying to annoy the actors and audiences," recalls Wan, 67. "For him, theater is a noble place."

Asked about her idea of writing a sequel to her father's Thunderstorm, Wan says that the classic work has been adapted by many theater companies in China and is a teaching material for art schools.

"The characters in Thunderstorm are vivid, memorable and I always wondered what future the characters would have after that fateful night," she says.

In Thunderstorm, the young master Zhou Ping from a wealthy family attempts to elope with the family's maid Sifeng, who is pregnant, before uncovering the truth that they are in fact brother and sister. Their attempts to elope have been hampered by Zhou's stepmother, Fanyi, who has had an incestuous relationship with Zhou. A thunderstorm breaks out when Lu Shiping, the mother of Sifeng, drops by to take her daughter away, which reveals the painful past hidden in the Zhou family.

What Wan explores in her Thunderstorm II is the three major survivors of that night, Zhou Puyuan, the father of Zhou Ping, Lu, and Fanyi, whose children and lover died during that night and their lives were changed. Her writing style is contemporary and in a stream-of-consciousness style.

"I am intrigued by the power of Thunderstorm by Cao. There are different layers of power and conflicts from those characters, such as Zhou Puyuan, who dares to love a woman of much lower social status, and the message of women should stand up to battle against the injustice and inequality that they were facing at that time," says the director."Though the story took place in China, it reflects issues which are mutual."

Tong Ruimin, 63, plays the role of Zhou Puyuan, who had an affair with Lu as a young man and had two sons with her. Zhou, however, married a girl from a rich family and forced Lu to leave his house. Zhou kept their older son Zhou Ping while Lu took the younger son away.

"Some younger audiences have not watched the classic piece. Though the piece is from decades ago, it still deserves to be seen today," says Tong, who has directed Thunderstorm himself and as a teacher of Shanghai Theatre Academy, he let his students read and act in the play as a teaching material.

"I also look forward to see how Wan Fang's Thunderstorm II goes onstage. It's like a conversation between father and daughter, which is interesting."

"It will be a quite different version of Thunderstorm and I really enjoy the conversations among Zhou, Lu and Fanyi in Thunderstorm II, in which they talk about death, regret, and self reconciliation," says actress He Saifei, who plays the role of Lu.

The other cast members include Hawick Lau playing the role of Zhou Ping, actresses Shi Ke and Kong Wei playing the role of Fanyi and Lyu Xingchen playing the role of Sifeng.

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