[CHINA – AUSTRALIAN PREMIERE]
by Nikki Fort.
Somewhat of a ‘cult superstar’, with more than two million followers on China’s social media networks, highly acclaimed avante-garde-theatre director Meng Jinghui is bringing his latest project, Amber, to Adelaide as part of OzAsia Festival 2015. Australia first saw Meng’s work in 2011 with the play Rhinoceros In Love and again in 2014 when he was the guest Director at Malthouse Theatre’s production of Brecht’s The Good Person Of Szechuan: a German play being performed in English, by an Australian cast with a Chinese director; a truly multicultural event.
We speak to Director Meng Jinghui via email and an interpreter, and ask him to tell us about this latest show that he is bringing to Adelaide.
“Amber is a story about the heart, a struggling love story between a playboy and a beautiful lady.”
Gao, the womanising playboy, has a real reputation for drinking and gambling. Waking in his hospital room after a heart transplant, the beautiful and mysterious Shen comes to his room and listens to his heartbeat – insisting that she is in love with Gao’s new heart and not with him.
“My inspiration to direct this production mainly came from the fantastic script. It is an incredible storyline, highly charged with emotion. My creation was developed using emotion as the trigger for the work.”
Amber is filled with impromptu rock, dance and rapid-fire multimedia. These individual aspects combined aim to explore the nature of love, loss of innocence and the commercialisation of sex in modern China. We ask Meng is he is working with a theatre company or was this cast put together just for this show?
“I have been working with the National Theatre Company of China for a number of years now, and we continue have an ongoing relationship.”
Amber features two of China’s biggest actors, Liu Ye and Yuan Quan. Was it difficult to get them to agree to star in the show?
“Liu Ye and Yuan Quan are good actors and actresses and they were both very excited to take on the challenge, as they each expect to grow from their experience on the stage. Liu Ye and Yuan Quan were my classmates, so I am thrilled that they wanted to work on the project. They are the kind of people who have big dreams and best of all they are nice to work with.”
What will the audience experience from this performance?
“Amber reflects the life and thoughts of the modern young generation in China. This is not only expressed through the story, but also through symbolism within the play. More importantly, it is a combination of emotion and imagination and audiences should have high expectations.”
Are there plans to tour Amber elsewhere, following OzAsia Festival?
“Amber is currently touring in ten cities throughout China. In November, after OzAsia, Amber will be in The National Theatre in Zurich, Switzerland.”
You were last here at OzAsia Festival with Rhinoceros In Love. I believe Amber is the sequel to that show. Can you explain the follow on?
“Both of them are written by playwright Liao Yimei – who is also my wife. Rhinoceros In Love talks to itself and Amber talks to other people. This kind of emotion is very complex. If Rhinoceros is animal, then Amber is plant.”
Are you looking forward to returning to Australia and OzAsia Festival? What did you enjoy the most the last time you were in Adelaide?
“Yes, I am really excited to be back. The Australian stage is glamorous. I especially love the wine and the koalas in Adelaide.”
Please note: This performance is spoken in Mandarin with English surtitles.
Amber performs at Her Majesty’s Theatre from 7.30pm on Thu 1 Oct until Fri 2 Oct.
Book at BASS on 131 246 or bass.net.au. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.
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