East will meet west as actors from China and students from Stratford-upon-Avon come together to perform a vibrant and innovative production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet as part of the bard’s birthday celebrations.
With Stratford-upon-Avon College’s outstanding reputation for performing arts, coupled with its growing international popularity as an institution of study for Chinese students, the college through it`s collaboration with Beijing Shengji Art School is proud to have its students on stage with a professional cast from China to celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday.
Presented by the Greater China Culture Global Association (GCCGA), ‘Hamlet: Sword of Vengeance’ is a unique and colourful adaptation of Hamlet performed in Mandarin Chinese. The college’s students will perform meticulously choreographed dance routines alongside the cast including actors from the National Theatre of China. Students on the National Diploma in Performing Arts (Dance) got to work with the production’s director, James Mark, on his recent visit to the campus. They have also been working with their lecturer, Kath Waters to finalise the choreography for their performance within the production. Kath commented, “This has been a fantastic opportunity for our dance students to explore the Chinese culture through the world of dance and theatre. They have all embraced this project and can’t wait to perform!” Chinese students from Stratford-upon-Avon College, who are studying on the Higher Education Foundation Programme, will also be starring in the production as soldiers.
The cast and production crew will be travelling over from China and Hong Kong several days before the performances for final rehearsals with students from Stratford-upon-Avon College. Performances will take place at Stratford-upon-Avon’s Civic Hall and with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust supporting this event as part of the Shakespeare birthday celebrations, the first show will occur on Shakespeare’s birthday, 23rd April. The general public can see Sword of Vengeance at the Civic Hall on 23rd, 24th and 25th April at 7:30pm.
Martin Penny, principal of Stratford-upon-Avon College, said, “With thanks to the GCCGA for presenting Sword of Vengeance, this will be a milestone production showcasing the full splendour of traditional Chinese theatre. This is a tremendous step forward in developing a strong working partnership between the college and our partners in Beijing and Hong Kong. We look forward to working closely with them in the future following the success of this Shakespearean collaboration.”
The GCCGA, presenter and sponsor of ‘Hamlet: Sword with Vengeance’, was founded in 2005 by Dr. Alice T.H.W. Chiu, JP in Hong Kong. GCCGA promotes Chinese culture to the world and organises events and activities to both overseas Chinese and to non-Chinese nations. This event has developed a high profile both in Beijing and Hong Kong and is supported by many organisations including the Ministry of Culture in Beijing and the British Council.
The Beijing Shengji Art School is a vocational school granting high school diplomas with majors in dancing, acting, mass media, music and fine arts. It was founded in 1995 with the approval of the Beijing Education Commission. The school has been honoured many times for its achievements by the municipal government and works hard to build bridges between their student’s achievements and the demand from employers within the various Chinese media and cultural industries. The school has been involved in many productions in the USA as well as South Korea and Indonesia.
This production of Hamlet been adapted from the original Shakespeare text by Professor Richard MW Ho. Professor Ho received his BA and MPhil degrees in Chinese from the University of Hong Kong and went on to complete his PhD in Chinese Studies from the University of London. From there he went on to the University of Wisconsin where he taught Chinese literature and philosophy before returning to Hong Kong to work as a television executive. He retired at the end of 2006, following many years teaching classical Chinese literature at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. He is now an honorary professor in the Department of Chinese Language and Literature and on the Board of Directors of GCCGA.
Tickets are priced at £8 (£5 concessions) and available from the Civic Hall by calling 01789 207100, online at www.civichall.co.uk or from the college reception on 01789 266245.
Photo caption: Stratford-upon-Avon College’s National Diploma Performing Arts (Dance) students with their lecturer, Kath Waters and director, James Mark (centre).
Posted on Tuesday 16th June 2009