Thursday, February 21, 2013
Cooking A Dream (黄梁一梦)
Dawdled in getting tickets to Huayi till there were only three productions left that we could watch because the rest were sold out. In particular, Nine Years Theatre's 'Twelve Angry Men' (十二怒汉) had been sold out for its 5 runs since early January. WOW. Sadness for us, but a good thing for the arts! The friends had tickets to watch the rest, while another batch of friends and I managed to check out other enjoyable performances, like Taipei's indie pop darling BearBabes and Hong Kong's Tang Shu-win Theatre Studio's dance-theatre piece 'Thunderstorm' (舞•雷雨).
Also watched 'Cooking A Dream' (黄梁一梦) by China's Full Show Lane Studio. The story isn't new. It takes the content from a old fable (是个成语故事). It tells of how a young scholar Lu met a Taoist priest while taking shelter from a thunderstorm. Lu fell asleep on the priest's magical pillow and dreamt that his quest for fame and fortune to top the imperial examinations were nothing but an empty dream. What's impressive, is the dramatic interpretation of this story, and Director, Huang Ying's (黄盈) presentation of it on stage in a 70-min play.
Interlinking ancient poetic Chinese figure of speech with its modern phrases is brilliant. The opera elements are welcomed, and appreciated in its measured dosage throughout the play. The colorful yet minimalist costumes eloquently convey each station of scholar Lu's life in the dream, and the use of a traditional san xian (三弦) played live by a talented Shi Zhuohong (石卓弘), lend so much layers to the scenes unfolding. So good! Thoroughly enjoyable.
As we watched the play, pots of millet 'rice' were being cooked and we could smell its fragrance, and also that smell of new bamboo steamer covers atop the electric cookers. By the end of the show, the pots of millet were ready. Instead of just the usual meet-the-actors session, the cast dished out bowls of millet 'rice' to the audience, of course with a prior allergy alert. There was a carp of sorts used in the later part of the play. It appeared in the tank of water about 10 to 15 minutes before the end. Poor thing was visibly nervous, hiding away as best as it could from the noises, music, and hands stirring the water.