The second Greek and Chinese theatre co-production based on Chinese theatre play titled "Farewell My Concubine" had its premiere in Olympia Municipal Music Theatre Maria Callas in Athens on 7th February. The theatre received a full house with around 600 audiences who were expecting to see the fusion of Greek theatre and Chinese theatre.
Most of Greek auidences knew about the story of "Farewell My Concubine" which happens in 2nd century BC from the film with the same title which was the only Chinese language film having won Palme d'Or at Cannes Film Festival. This was the first time for this play to be staged in Greece.
Since last century, there have been more and more practices in the East and the West to explore and collaborate with each other's theatres. However, because of the limited knowledge and understanding on the different cultures, till today the outcomes were not satisfying yet. The most common way was to use the form of western theatre to perform a Chinese opera play, or use Chinese opera such as Peking opera to perform a western theatre play. But as the professor George from University of Patras said, this could be more popular for foreign audiences, for example, using Chinese opera to perform an Ancient Greek play, it would be more welcome by Greek audiences, because they could easily understand the familiar story and have the chance to experience the exotic theatre. But for the Chinese audiences, because not familiar with the story and the culture difference, they may have difficulty in understanding or be lack of interest.
The "Farewell My Concubine" of Greek version is an experiment for the collaboration between Chinese theatre and Greek theatre. Miao Bin, the postgraduate student of the Department of Theatre Studies of University of Peloponnese, is the playwright and producer of this play. Stavros Karagiannis and Yiannis Panagopoulos who involved in the production of "Zhao the Orphan" which was collaborated by National Theatre of Greece and National Theatre of China are the directors. Sixteen Greek actors from Peiraikos Syndesmos Drama School together with the Chinese actor Miao Bin were teamed up to present this story from ancient China.
Taking the characteristics of Greek theatre and Chinese theatre into consideration, the play kept the essence of Greek theatre - Chorus, which made the performance more powerful. This experiment of theatre collaboration, de-constructed Greek theatre and Chinese theatre, and based on the in-depth understanding on the cultural elements of both cultures, re-constructed. It was important improve the understanding of the Greek actors on Chinese traditional culture. Compared to using the form of one theatre to perform the story of another theatre, it was more difficult to truly fusion the two theatre.
The premiere was supported by OPANDA and Olympia Theatre, and provided free entrance for the public. All seats were booked two weeks before the performance. The premiere was successful and has received postive feedbacks from the audiences. This was also the first time for "Hanfu" - the Chinese traditional clothes to be in Greece on such a big scale, and let the Greek audiences feel the beauty of Chinese clothing.
Theatre was born to be intercultural. Theatre unites different cultures.