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Sino-German theater projects return to China

By Chen Nan in Beijing | China Daily UK | Updated: 2017-07-07 23:18

Sino-German theater projects return to China

Actors perform during 500 Meters, a play that features performing artists from China and Germany. The production is an example of heightened cultural cooperation between the two countries. [Photo/Provided to China Daily]

After successful cultural visit last year, Theatertreffen is once more in Beijing

After its successful premiere in China last year, Theatertreffen in China has returned to the country, from June 7 to July 8. The program is jointly presented by Berliner Theatertreffen, one of the most important cultural forces in German-speaking countries, and Wu Promotion, a private Chinese events-promotion agency for the performing arts.

Berlin's Theatertreffen is bringing two productions to Beijing's Tianqiao Performing Arts Center this year: Tripping Stones State Theater on July 7 and 8 and Der Die Mann on June 7 and 8.

"It's our task as a jury for Theatertreffen in China to find those that might be of most interest for Chinese audiences, but also those that can give a good example of the broad range of theater performances you can see in Germany throughout the year," said Clemens Treter, director of the Goethe-Institut China, who is one of the jury members selecting shows staged during Theatertreffen in China.

He said Der Die Mann is an exemplary work from director Herbert Fritsch, that combines music, color and expressive acting onstage. Tripping Stones State Theater is a prime example of contemporary documentary theater in Germany by director Hans-Werner Kroesinger that brings archives and historical documents to life.

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

In 2016, 8,948 people watched a total of 11 performances during the Theatertreffen in China, which also included a series of talks and artists interacting with

audiences in question-and-answer sessions after some performances.

"This gave German artists the chance to learn a lot about contemporary theater in China and the challenges and chances their Chinese counterparts might encounter," Treter said.

Ever since its establishment in Beijing in 1988, Goethe-Institut China is part of Germany's global cultural organization the Goethe-Institut, which offers language classes, training for teachers, library resources and information services about Germany, and cultural programs in China.

To promote cultural exchange between the two countries, the Goethe-Institut China also offers a wide range of cultural events and programs that showcase German and Chinese plays, literature, music, dance and film.

In 2017, the Goethe-Institut supported a Germany-China joint theater project, titled 500 Meters.

A joint effort by Chinese director Tian Gebing and Christoph Lepschy, professor at the University of Freiburg, the piece was premiered in Hamburg on May 27.

In 2014, the two collaborated on the German-Chinese theater project, Totally Happy, which brought together performers from the two countries.

500 Meters also gathers performers from China, Germany, Poland, and Spain. It takes a text from The Great Wall of China by novelist Franz Kafka writen in 1917 as its starting point and explores contemporary questions on power and the role of the individual within an ever more complex society.

"Coproduction is a very valuable way to bring artists together and to open up the space for artistic creation. They learn about each other's cultural background, they have to negotiate creative approaches, they discuss common problems from different perspectives and may therefore enhance our understanding of these topics in an unprecedented way," said Treter.

"German audiences might not have understood all about Chinese history in the performance at first glance, but they were deeply moved by the expressive performance full of interlinked movements and scenes. It was also very well received by critics and praised for its open and innovative character."

From Sept 23 to 28, a project titled Poets Translate Poets, also initiated by the Goethe-Institut China, will be introduced for the first time to Chinese audiences featuring Chinese- and German-speaking poets. There will be eight Chinese poets and five from Germany and Austria.

Other highlights will be the Festival of German Films, which will be held in this November. It will focus on the most interesting German productions from the last 12 to 18 months. A number of German directors or actors will come to China for public talks, interactions and workshops.

Sino-German theater projects return to China

German actors such as these from 500 Meters are in Beijing for Theatertreffen in China. [Photo/Provided to China Daily]

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