Ham­let decked out in Pek­ing Opera

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By JIAN PING in Chicago For China Daily

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.

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