THE DREAMER by Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre Gets European Premiere at the Edinburgh Fringe
The prestigious Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre in China has teamed up with Gecko to stage a new piece of work - THE DREAMER - inspired by two playwrights considered the most influential in their respective countries: William Shakespeare and Tang Xianzu.
Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre is the only national performing arts company in Shanghai. Famous for its new Chinese-language dramas, as well as performing English-language classics in Chinese, its impressive team of actors, directors, writers and other creatives works across various venues in the French Quarter of the city. This is the company's Fringe debut and the first time the ensemble has worked using physical theatre techniques.
Gecko is an award-winning and internationally-acclaimed physical theatre company, led by Artistic Director Amit Lahav, established in 2001. In 2016 it won the Peter Brook Equity Ensemble Award and this production sees ensemble members Rich Rusk and Chris Evans lead in the creation of an associate show for the first time.
2016 marked not only the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death but also that of his Chinese contemporary, Tang Xianzu. Dreams were a leitmotiv for both writers and THE DREAMER reimagines a dream sequence, inspired by The Peony Pavilion and Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Focusing on strong female characters within both plays and exploring the topics of magic, humour and love in classic Gecko style, the show blends emotionally driven movement, a spine-tingling soundscape and striking visual storytelling to bring a new twist to these classic works.
"An amazing show! For its unique performing style, distinct stage design and music, The Dreamer is the most impressive show I've ever watched!"? Audience member
Created by Gecko's associate director Rich Rusk and devising performer Chris Evans (Gecko's: The Overcoat, Missing, Institute, The Time of your Life, The Wedding), The Dreamer is an international collaboration between Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre and Gecko, created as part of British Council's 2016 Shakespeare Lives programme. The Dreamer premiered on 7 October at the Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre.
Amit Lahav, Artistic Director said: "Gecko has been touring to China since 2010 and audiences in the country are very fond of the company. It was extremely exciting to work on our first international co-production with Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre and their ensemble.
Rich Rusk and Chris Evans have been working with Gecko for 15 years between them and I'm thrilled to see them take the lead on this very exciting international collaboration."
Rich Rusk, Gecko's Associate Director said: "It was a huge highlight to work on Gecko's first international collaboration with Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre which celebrates the international appeal and power of both Shakespeare and his contemporary, Tang Xianzu. We have created a Gecko-style visual feast, and invite our audiences to dive into the world of dreams and unleash their imagination. This co-production is a first of its kind for us so it has been very exciting to be a part of it."
Chris Evans, Movement Director said: "Gecko has been my home for the past six years, where as a maker and performer I've been able to throw everything I have into a show, and see how that process throws back at me challenges and ways to develop. This project enabled me to pull together these skills and provocations. The experience of making a whole production, taking responsibility for it and believing in our decisions as co-creators has been the most transformative experience of my career. "
Alex Wu, Producer at Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre said: "Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre has continuously been seeking to work with creative and ground-breaking artists from all over the world. After witnessing the success of Gecko's touring productions Missing and The Overcoat in China, SDAC warmly invited Gecko to present a cross-cultural dialogue between the two giants in western and eastern theatre - William Shakespeare and Tang Xianzu - and discover the emotional connection between classics and modern people, aiming to bring energetic and profound theatrical work to both Chinese and British audiences, as well as audiences in other corners of the world."
Neil Webb, Director of Theatre & Dance at the British Council said: "Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre has been an important and trusted partner in our work in China for many years. Gecko meanwhile has appeared in several of our Edinburgh Showcases and toured extensively around the world, including in China. I am delighted to see these world-class organisations celebrating the profound influence of such world-class playwrights. And I look forward to seeing the finished work presented to audiences in China and the UK as part of our global Shakespeare Lives programme."