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Artists from China, Greece perform Yuan Dynasty play

Xinhua | Updated: 2018-11-28 08:12

ATHENS-The traditional Chinese play, The Orphan of Zhao, premiered in Athens recently, thrilling the audience who watched a new adaptation of the masterpiece.

And for the first time, Chinese and Greek artists performed in their respective languages one of China's greatest tragedies at the National Theatre of Greece, proving that art has no boundaries.

Under a bilateral agreement of the national theaters of China and Greece, the much-loved story was presented to the audience incorporating two drama styles guided by Chinese director Wang Xiaoying.

"We had a unique result-it was not completely Greek, it was not completely Chinese. It was a collision and a fusion of two cultural ideas in an exceptional play," says Wang.

Speaking about the collaboration, the artistic director of the National Theatre of Greece, Stathis Livathinos, says: "There is something unusual in this project. The play is bilingual, and the culture and languages of the two civilizations coexist in this production.

"Language is culture, and vice versa," Livathinos says, explaining that language can be a bridge and not a barrier.

"I think it is (a) great interaction and exchange between Chinese and Greek culture."

Chinese playwright Yu Qingfeng echoes the view when he says: "It is also a profound expression of the two countries' friendship."

The story of The Orphan of Zhao, from China's Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), is a tragic tale of an orphan surnamed Zhao, who is saved thanks to the selflessness of a doctor.

The play is a masterful contemplation of vengeance, power, justice, loss and sacrifice.

For this adaptation, Wang did not follow the traditional path but enriched the story with contemporary elements in an effort to involve and engage the audience.

According to the Chinese director, the new version reflects a theme which is up to date and global: Can one person's kindness eliminate the hatred of mankind.

Commenting on the performance, Aphrodite Kapralou, who came with her friends to watch the play, says: "It was an exceptional performance. Especially, the doctor who had the lead role. He was amazing.

"I was worried that I would not understand the performance, but language was not a problem. And the doctor's performance moved me."

Greek actor Thanasis Sarantos, who praises the timeless character of the play and the cultural exchange, says: "At the beginning, there was fear because we are two cultures, and there are two languages, but afterward we saw that we have so much in common.

"We are two nations with great ancient civilizations, and with respect for each other since ancient times.

"It was an exquisite experience with the whole team-the team spirit was incredible."

The Chinese play will run through Sunday at the National Theatre in Athens.

It is performed in Greek and Chinese, with subtitles in Greek, Chinese and English.

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