Yan’s mom-inspired TV se­ries mak­ing waves

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By XU­FAN xu­fan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Best-selling au­thor Yan Gel­ing, re­cently made a splash on Chi­nese TV with Theater, a 34-episode se­ries writ­ten by her.

Since June 10, when it was first aired on Bei­jing Satel­lite TV, the se­ries has­be­comea hit among mid­dle-aged Chi­nese ow­ing to both its set­ting — a re­mote town in 1980s China — and the sto­ry­line that cen­ters on a strug­gling theater star, who af­ter be­ing framed by a younger ri­val, de­cides to walk out of the sit­u­a­tion and fol­low her dreams in Bei­jing.

The 57-year-old Chi­ne­seAmer­i­can writer has pub­lished nearly 50 nov­els and novel­las in English and Chi­nese, some of which have been trans­lated in many other lan­guages, such as Dutch, French, Span­ish and Ja­panese.

Yan says the TV se­ries was inspired from the real-life story of her mother, Jia Lin, a vet­eran theater ac­tress. “It is my way of pay­ing trib­ute to el­derly Chi­nese artists,” she says, adding that theater re­flects the “di­ver­sity of hu­man­ity”.

“Dur­ing my child­hood, I al­ways lin­gered at the theater where my mother worked. I had wit­nessed the en­tire process of mak­ing a drama, from re­hearsals to per­form­ers’ wear­ing their makeup. It made­me­fas­ci­nated,” Yan tells China Daily.

The Shang­hai-born au­thor, who em­i­grated to the United States in the late ’80s, says her mem­o­ries of are still vivid.

“I re­mem­ber how crazy our young peo­ple loved dra­mas at the time. It was the golden era of theater drama but their pop­u­lar­ity faded in the 1990s.”

De­scrib­ing her­self as a fan of dra­mas, Yan says they made “pretty high-level” art, and adds that she is con­sid­er­ing writ­ing a drama screen­play as well.

Theater fea­tures vet­eran ac­tress Chen Shu and ac­tor Sun Chun, who are both pro­fes­sional artists with­Na­tional Theater of China.

“It’s a TV drama not pitched at the mar­ket and au­di­ence rat­ings. It could be a suc­cess­ful work be­yond the mun­dane def­i­ni­tion of com­mer­cial suc­cess,” Chen says. “It inspires me to bet­ter un­der­stand older artists.”

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