International plays to shine at Aranya Theater Festival
Published: Apr 23, 2024 10:13 PM
Photo: Courtesy of Aranya Theater Festival

Photo: Courtesy of Aranya Theater Festival

The 2024 Aranya Theater Festival will be held in Qinhuangdao, North China's Hebei Province from June 20 to 30. The theater festival will bring together 29 plays from 17 countries. For the first time, nine artistic directors from national theater festivals in eight countries - France, Austria, Japan, Australia, Greece, Egypt, Poland, and Colombia - have been invited to bring their works to China.

Meng Jinghui, artistic director of the theater festival and director of the National Theater of China, introduced that the 2024 edition takes "exception and rule" as its theme while keeping the four major sections - Theater, Crossover, Evolution and Public Art - with the aim of expanding the boundaries of art and encouraging more audiences to participate in the discussion of dramas as a path for exploring society and the truths of life.

As 2024 marks the China-France Year of Culture and Tourism, several theater works from French directors and actors will highlight the cultural exchanges between China and France on the stage at the festival. Director Olivier Py's Hamlet a l'imperatif! challenges the audience and takes them into a story where duty intersects with self-awareness with the famous "To be or not to be." Directed by France-based Yngvild Aspeli, the play Moby Dick follows the voyage of the Pequod and Captain Ahab, who has sworn vengeance on the whale who took his leg.

The opening show of the festival will be director Constanza Macras' Drama. The figures in the work nurture the anthropological desire to dissect popular culture in an effort to discover the arc of suspense between high and low art, while revealing the untiring energy of the glamour dancers of the Argentinian revue in the 1920s. They perform with a spartan endurance and without the slightest hint of pain. Robert Lippok's musical score adds to this atmosphere, contrasting the musical referencing of pop songs. 

Besides this, a number of Chinese theater works will be staged including young director Ma Junfeng's stage version of the popular novel Blossoms by writer Jin Yucheng. Director Chen Minghao will bring Galileo by the Sea I+II+III. 

The nine participating international theater festivals include the Festival d'Avignon in France, Melbourne Fringe Festival in Australia, World Theatre Festival Shizuoka in Japan and the Sharm ElSheikh International Theater Festival for Youth in Egypt.