Suspended from the ceiling is a withered branch. Under it, in the dark, stands a cocktail bar. From nowhere comes the sound of eccentric music. Two women and a man, standing on a stage scattered with glimmering lights, spit out their crazy talk . . .
Theatre-goers who are interested in Theatre of Absurd can see this scene at the Blackbox of the Capital Theatre, where Waiting for Godot by the People's Art Theatre, is waiting for its viewers.
The People's Art Theatre has just closed its hit Thunderstorm, which created a box-office record. Now, with the first foreign Absurdist play ever to be produced at the theatre, will Beckett top their last success?
"I anticipate both acclaim and fiasco," said director Ren Ming,"and I believe it will surely become the first controversial play of '98," he added with a smile.
When Playbill On-Line contacted International Beckett Foundation President, James Knowlson (author of the recent Beckett biography Damned to Fame) for an opinion on the unorthodox production, he declined to comment. Since 1980, PAT has been trying to stage experimental plays, such as Absolute Sign, directed by Lin Zhaohua, and Idiot Lover, directed by Ren Ming, etc.. But all these plays brought controversy instead of success. "Though it is very risky to do experimental works, we should still take the risk bravely, otherwise, our 'art' is only 'restricted art' that cannot improve," said Ren.
The Chinese version of Waiting for Godot is quite different from its original work -- there are only three actors instead of five, and the story happens in a bar instead of in the wilderness. All these changes are intended to meet the Chinese way of thinking.
Ren concluded that, "The play is good to see, easy to understand, but hard to predict [the response]".
Waiting for Godot runs at 7 PM Jan.26-Feb.26, at the Blackbox of the Capital Theatre, No. 22, Wang Fu Jing Da Jie.
For tickets call 010-65249847. Price: RMB50yuan.
-- By Wang Ling, China Correspondent and Sean McGrath