Hamlet decked out in Peking Opera
To sing or not to sing, that is the question, for a new version of Shakespeare’s most famous procrastinator.
The Shanghai Jingju Theatre Company will stage Shakespeare’s Hamlet in traditional Peking Opera style at the Harris Theater in Chicago on Wednesday and Thursday.
“Most of the tickets on the main floor have been sold out,” said theater spokesperson Jamie Herman.
Theater president Michael Tiknis said he was excited about staging the performance, adding that he was taken by the show when he saw it earlier in China.
Hamlet (The Revenge of Prince ZiDan), is based on Shakespeare’s immortal classic tragedy. Set in a fictitious ancient Chinese state, the story follows the prince’s quest for revenge and all of the psychological turmoil that comes with it.
“We give each character a two syllable Chinese name for easy pronunciation, such as Zi Dan for Hamlet,” said Yuejin Shan, president of Shanghai Jingju Theater Company. “The roles and backgrounds of the characters are all different — quite refreshing for Shakespeare lovers.”
Yuejin said the Chinese version of Hamlet was first staged in 2005 and has since been shown in 30 cities in 13 countries to great acclaim. The performances at the Harris Theater this week will mark the first theatrical presentation in the US.
“This show is a true combination of art forms from the West and East,” added Shan.
“Shakespeare’s plays are all very complicated,” said Xiru Fu, who is playing the role of prince. “We use the succinct Peking Opera format to focus on the revenge story line only and strictly follow the rules of Chinese dramatic aesthetics.”
Fu, 36, a well-known Peking Opera singer, has been playing the lead role in the show since he was 24.
The traveling troupe from the Shanghai Jingju Theater has an entourage of 45 people. They will go on to perform two shows in Toronto.
The Shanghai Jingju Theatre Company will stage Hamlet as a Peking Opera in Chicago this week.