Quenching nostalgia

By Sun Shuangjie Source:Global Times Published: 2016-4-12 18:08:01

Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre’s new play discusses pining for the past to heal the present

In this globalized world, it's increasingly common for people to leave their hometowns to chase life elsewhere. So these following situations may seem familiar to you.

Wherever you're working and living, especially if it's temporarily, you may feel a sense of loneliness when you're by yourself.

It may creep up deep in the night, even though in the daytime you're submerged in your busy life and surrounded by enthusiastic friends. You may feel that you don't belong.

And then you suffer from homesickness, and wait for ages before finally going back home to see your family and old friends.

However, when you start to talk with them, you realize that they don't understand you either. They treat you in such a friendly and courteous way, it's like you're a guest, not a native.

That's when the hometown fails to offer a sense of comfort to you and makes you a stranger to it.

Nostalgia is common. Even those who have spent their entire life in one place, they experience rapid changes in society and the uncertainties in private life. At some point, we all get nostalgic.

A scene from The Stranger Photos: Courtesy of SDAC

After the death of an only child

The Stranger, a new play by the Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre (SDAC), looks into this homesickness for time and place, through an old couple who lost their son. The play runs Thursday to May 1 in Chinese language.

In The Stranger, Su Min, a literature professor, and Guan Xun, a doctor, are a couple from Hunan who now live in Shanghai.

The death of their only son changes their lives. The two are devastated. They take pills to counter the pain, and they try to pull through the nightmare.

They spend half a year in Hong Kong, where their son once lived, but that only makes them miss him more. Then they go back to their hometown in hopes of healing their broken souls.

The majority of the story revolves around the couple's life in the countryside in Hunan Province, where they don't see the hometown they remembered and envisioned, so they must continue the search to remedy their pain.

During the process, memories of their son and their love stories come forward, and the couple is caught in a net interwoven with both cruelty and warmth, sadness and hope.

Song Yining, born in 1959 and a top-class actress honored by the Chinese government, plays the role of Su Min.

She told the Global Times that the underlying theme of the play is the story of how people settle their souls in contemporary society.

She said she believes that once people satisfy their true desires, no matter where they go, they won't feel like a stranger.

A poster for the play

One table and two chairs

The play is written by Wang Haoran, a young dramatist who was born in 1988, and directed by top-class director Zhou Xiaoqian.

Besides Song Yining, SDAC's veteran actor Li Jianhua as well as young artists Xu Manman, Fu Yawen and Liu Chunfeng, to name a few, will also join the play.

Zhou told the Global Times that she was surprised to find such a refined script of complicated emotions was written by such a young man, and she said she was impressed by the language of the play, which often has multiple layers of meaning and allows room for imagination.

To let the audience appreciate the essence of language and performance, the play will be presented on a minimalist stage, with almost only one table and two chairs, a classical set for traditional Chinese operas.

Date: April 14 to May 1, 7:30 pm (closed on Mondays and 2 pm on Sundays)

Venue: Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre D6 Space 上海话剧艺术中心D6空间

Address: 6/F, 288 Anfu Road


Tickets: 180 yuan ($27.82) to 280 yuan

Buy tickets on sdac.taobao.com

Posted in: Metro Shanghai, Theater, Culture

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