|Actors rehearse the play "Disguise."|
Plays from 18th century France and the Victorian era of Britain will be staged in Shanghai this week.
"La Double Inconstance" ("The Double Inconsistency"), a three-act comedy by French playwright Marivaux (1688-1763), will be performed in Mandarin, with French subtitles, for the first time.
Seven local French teachers from Fudan University have jointly translated the script, each focusing on one character, to make sure that each of them has distinctive and consistent characteristics.
"The play is known to every household back in France, and I'm so honored to have the chance to introduce it to Chinese audiences," says French director Denis Bolusset-Li.
Though the play was written in 1723, it is very relevant today, says Bolusset-Li.
"It is, after all, all about love," he says.
The story is set in an imaginary land, where an infatuated prince has kidnapped a young woman, Silvia, from her fiance and childhood sweetheart Arlequin. In order to break up the couple, the prince and his female servant Flaminia try all kinds of tricks.
Will Silvia be happily married to the prince or stay loyal to her lover? The ending is unexpected.
"Love is always full of surprises," Bolusset-Li says. "The play vividly depicts even the slightest changes of people's emotions. It also gives the audience an idea what 18th century French comedy is like."
One of the most important French playwrights of the 18th century, Marivaux is known for his neutral writing style. "He told the story from a third person's perspective without being biased to any side," the director adds.
The play is part of the ongoing "Festival Croisements," an annual culture exchange between China and France.
Noting the popularity of "whodunit" plays in the city, a group of students from the Shanghai Theater Academy has formed "Baker Street Studio," aimed at reviving the stories of detective Sherlock Holmes, Dr Watson and other characters on the stage.
The first production, "Disguise," adapted by one of the 56 short stories by Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930), will be premiered on Wednesday.
Director Gan Yuan and his team, however, won't reveal the story title, "so the audience will enjoy the fun of being a detective themselves in the theater."
Set in 19th century London, all the characters wear period costume and the young director has done extensive research about the Victorian era.
Apart from the established fictional characters, such as Irene Adler and Mary Morstan, real characters such as serial killer Jack the Ripper have been introduced "to give some historical background of the stories," says Gan.
"We don't want to attract attention through screams and blood, which are too often used in detective plays nowadays," he says. "We emphasize the story itself, to keep it as intense and appealing as possible."
"La Double Inconstance"
Date: June 2-6, 7:30pm
Tickets: 120 yuan
Venue: Studio Theater, Shanghai Grand Theater, 300 People's Ave
Date: June 2-6, 8-13, 7:30pm
Tickets: 80-200 yuan
Venue: Shanghai Drama Arts Theater, 288 Anfu Rd