Cao Yu is one of the greatest playwrights of the twentieth century in China. Inspired
by his centenary in 2010 – commemorated in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao and Tokyo – Dr. Ruru Li, Cao Yu’s stepdaughter, has organized a series of events across the UK and North America, including exhibitions, lectures, forums, film screenings, and stage performances, to promote the knowledge of Chinese culture abroad.

The Sun Is Not for Us, a devised theatre piece drawing on characters and plots of four canonical plays by Cao Yu, occupies a vital position in the above activities. Led by David Jiang, a famous professional director working inside and outside China, a group of British students from the University of Leeds created this brand new work after carefully reading and discussing five original play scripts. The production explores love, hatred, family and marriage from the perspective of Chinese women. It expresses British young people’s understanding of Chinese classics on stage. Having premiered in Leeds in 2011, it was recreated in 2012 and presented at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The production is now going to perform at the 2012 Shanghai International Contemporary Theatre Festival in November and tour Qianjiang (Cao Yu’s ancestral town in Hubei province) and Chengdu for local Chinese students.

It is hoped, therefore, the performance may prove of great significance in enhancing non-Chinese people’s awareness/understanding of contemporary Chinese theatre and Chinese culture. The entire project is cross-cultural and interdisciplinary, and is intended to work as a cultural bridge to foster genuine dialogue and mutual understanding between the outside world and China.

This article is our attempt to record these British young people’s feelings and experiences through their creation of the production, and audiences’ reflections after seeing the performances.

曹禺先生是中國20世紀最偉大的劇作家之一。 受曹禺先生誕辰一百週年的啟發,曹禺先生的繼 女、英國利茲大學現代語言文化學院的李如茹 博士1組織了一系列與曹禺先生和現代戲劇有關 的紀念活動。活動包括展覽、演講、論壇、電影 放映和舞臺表演。舞臺劇《太陽不是我們的》是 一部改編自曹禺先生四部經典作品的新作。主 創者為著名導演、學者蔣維國博士2(前香港演 藝學院戲劇學院院長)及其帶領下的利茲大學 學生,他們分別來自三個學院:演出文化創意學 院、現代語言文化學院與英語學院。這部新編劇 作靈感來自曹禺先生經典作品中女性人物的生 活與掙扎,從二十一世紀英國青年的視角出發, 創造了一部有關愛、恨、家庭與婚姻的演出。這 部作品是由英國的年輕人通過閲讀曹禺先生的 五部作品後,在他們自己認識的基礎上,採用四 個劇本中的人物與故事,重新架構、創造與演 繹。該劇在利茲與2012年愛丁堡藝術節演出後, 即將參加本年度上海國際當代戲劇節,并將巡 演潛江(曹禺的故鄉)與成都,因此,整部作品 對於中國當代戲劇在海外的推廣,以及幫助外 國青年理解中國文化方面意義重大。這是一次 跨文化,跨學科的嘗試,以戲劇為橋梁,增進外 部世界與中國之間真正的對話与相互理解。我 們試圖用參與者和觀众的聲音來記錄這次創作 經過帶給英國年輕人的感觸。

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