Hunch­back of Notre-Dame

Clas­sic French novel adapted into stage play for Chi­nese chil­dren

Global Times – Metro Shanghai - - FRONT PAGE -

China Wel­fare As­so­ci­a­tion Chil­dren’s Art Theater (CWACAT) re­cently adapted Notre-Dame de Paris, aka

The Hunch­back of Notre-Dame, a world-fa­mous novel writ­ten by French writer Vic­tor Hugo (1802 – 1885) in 1831, into a stage play to entertain and teach Chi­nese chil­dren for­eign fairy tales.

It was an­nounced by CWACAT on Tues­day that the play, still ti­tled Notre-Dame de Paris, will pre­mier in Shang­hai on Oc­to­ber 1 and be per­formed four times at the Malan­hua Theater.

The pro­duc­tion team shared their ideas and ex­pe­ri­ences about the play. Dif­fer­ent from Hugo’s orig­i­nal ver­sion, which sighs over des­tiny and love, the new ren­di­tion aims to teach chil­dren how to dis­tin­guish beauty from ug­li­ness and good from evil.

Play­wright Du Cun and di­rec­tor Cai Jin­ping turned the orig­i­nal hu­man char­ac­ters into per­son­i­fied an­i­mals. Quasi­modo, the hunch­back, is now an ugly go­rilla, Es­mer­alda is a beau­ti­ful lark and Frollo a de­vi­ous vul­ture.

All the three char­ac­ters will sing, with mu­sic de­signed to fit their per­son­al­i­ties com­posed by Jin Fuzai. Ac­cord­ing to Jin, as the play is for chil­dren, the mu­sic will be joy­ous and easy to un­der­stand.

Suit­able for kids

Stage and cos­tume de­signs are in the hands of Sergey La­vor from Rus­sia, who be­lieves that an­i­mals rep­re­sent hu­man per­cep­tions. In his mind, the lark stands for joy and hap­pi­ness, the go­rilla refers to courage and love and the vul­ture a com­bi­na­tion of anger, evil, greed and jeal­ousy.

The scenery for the play in­te­grates multi-level spa­ces and di­vides the stage into sev­eral act­ing ar­eas in­clud­ing a bridge, an un­der­ground palace, a cathe­dral and a bell tower, each en­dowed with dif­fer­ent metaphors.

Ac­cord­ing to La­vor, the bridge is a life which can be de­stroyed by de­vi­ous greed, the bell sum­mons up courage and the palace pro­vides pro­tec­tion. “When speak­ing of Notre-Dame

de Paris, peo­ple usu­ally think about the mag­nif­i­cent cathe­dral in France or the tragic story of the hunch­back,” said Cai, who ex­plained that his ren­di­tion is quite dif­fer­ent and more suit­able for young au­di­ence.

Pho­tos: Cour­tesy of CWACAT and CFP

(From top) Au­di­ence at the event; A woman asks a ques­tion to the or­ga­niz­ers. Di­rec­tor Cai Jin­ping (mid­dle) makes an in­tro­duc­tion of the show. Posters of the play; (Left) Per­form­ers in re­hearsal (Be­low) Stained glass of Notre-Dame de Paris

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