South Korean Oscar winner 'Parasite' adapted as Chinese stage play
Published: Nov 12, 2021 01:19 AM
Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Parasite, the 2019 South Korean black comedy thriller film that won four awards at the 92nd Academy Awards, has been adapted into a stage play by a Chinese production team and will be launched around China in January 2022. Chinese audiences have already begun purchasing tickets.

The popularity of the stage drama continued to rise a week after tickets went on sale on November 3. As of Tuesday, the number of searches for the production increased by 200 percent compared to the first day, according to a report by China's online travel booking platform Ctrip.

The stage play directed by Chinese director Yang Ting and authorized by South Korean CJ Entertainment have made some creative changes based on the original work. 

The two lead characters from the movie, Kim Ki-woo and Kim Ki-Jung, will be played by Chinese actor Ma Tianyu and actress Hao Lei. The cast has also made audiences excited, Chinese news outlet The Paper reported.

The two live in an underground room with their parents in poor conditions but one day they are accidently recruited by a rich family to work.

Their world changes and living conditions improve, but they gradually want more and more. The younger brother starts a romantic relationship with the elder sister of his employer and finds another secret and parasitic family living in the grand house.

The stage play will continue the movie's style of black comedy and seeks to use unique theater characteristics such as stage design, light, music and costumes to give a different feel to audiences, the report said.

"The plots will be like walking a tightrope and I want audiences to feel like they are riding a roller coaster during the 2.5-hour performance," the director said.

The movie Parasite itself has earned a great number of fans, especially after it won several top international awards, which is good for the stage play but meanwhile also presents challenges for the production team, Chinese filmmaker and investor Luo Luo told the Global Times on Thursday.

"The innate advantage of this stage play is audience recognition and the attention brought by the movie, but the popularity of the original work also makes it difficult to do anything creative," Luo noted.

She explained that movies and TV dramas tend to have more time to tell their stories, while stage dramas are more limited. In order to tell a good story in this limited time, they are bound to make cuts or even new edits to the plot, which is the first difficulty.

Another important challenge is how to both retain the existing images and characteristics of the roles in the audience's mind and avoid completely copying the roles in films and TV series. Directors and performers must work together to overcome these dilemmas.

Luo said she believes the stage play version of Parasite will succeed and be hailed by audiences.

Besides Beijing and Shanghai, the stage play will tour to cities such as Hangzhou in East China's Zhejiang Province and Shenzhen in South China's Guangdong Province.