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Let the Dramas back on Stage

-- The lustrous 20th year of Drama Night

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Written by: Casy CHEN Chester LIN
Photo by:Press group of the Drama Night
Edited by:James Campion, WANG Mengyu |  Date:2018/05/20119 Hits

“ Dramas are to shock, to entertain, to educate and to cure.”

— MAO Sihui, Father of the Drama Night

 

Following the narrow path along with looming air, those lucky ones with glittering tickets in hand paced up to the Grand Yunshan Hall on the afternoon of May 17th 2018. As anticipation filled the hall and the last streak of light faded, the lustrous 20th Drama Night fell upon GDUFS. Ever since the first debut in a small cinema, Drama Night has been rooted in GDUFS for 20 years, struggled to glam in the Guangzhou Opera House and become one of the most anticipated annual traditions provincially. Professor WEN Binli, Dean of Faculty of English Language and Culture, GDUFS; MAO Si hui, Dean of College of Liberal Arts, Shantou University and DuncanLees, Lecturer of Faculty of English Language and Culture were presented.

 

The 20th Drama Night began

 

Mrs Warren’s Profession

 

As the florid curtains drew up, the first play, Mrs Warren’s Profession, feasted the audience with delicately decorated scenery. Despite enormous pressure of being the first presenter, the play was naturally spread, focusing on how Mrs Warren, a flashy madam who was despised by others, struggled through the pain of short-lived mirages of wealth and twisted yet vulnerable split personality. On seeing CHEN Qianyi, the actress who played Mrs Warren, broke into the scene in a flatulent dress flapping a fan in a sight-striking style, the audience stretched their necks desiring to capture her subtle yet delicate changes of emotions and actions, falling for her flawless interpretation. Lost in the well-designed lighting effects, breath-taking performance and characteristic yet accurate accents, the audience burst into applause for the sensational and thought-provoking play.

 

Conflicts of the Characters seized everyone’s attention

 

The Pillowman

 

Written by Martin McDonagh, The Pillowman focuses on two brothers—Katurian, a renowned writer who was arrested for bizarre coincidence in his stories with a child murder case, and Michael, who was abused as a tool by his lunatic parents to trigger his brother’s imagination in writing.

 

Striking the audience with unbelievably cruel whips of beating and desperate screams in dim light, it seemed as if the play was to reveal the filthiest gutter of life. Nevertheless, everyone was shocked to numb when cruelest blood and purest humanity shown on Michael. As the two leading actors roared out their desperation in delicate accents, as Michael revealed the purest laughter, and as Katurian told the story of Pillowman in the most sensational tone, senses of fear, fury and intensity were alternated on the audience’s expressions. With a clear structure, effective flashback, lightning, props and succinct lines as well as the actors’ marvelous interpretation, the play stood out most and praised the purest hope in despair, brotherly love and numerous other merits.

 

Marvelous acting skills revealed the purest humanity

 

Mousetrap

 

One mansion, two murders, three victims, four deaths and six dimensions, the audience were trapped in the play along with the characters, witnessing the revenge of George, whose brother and sister were abused to death. In disguise of a police officer, he trapped two little mouse in one cage—the judge who sold three young lives to the monsters and his primarys chool teacher who intentionally ignored the filthy crime.

 

Compared to the version which was a huge success back in 2012, the new interpretation might have focused more on the striking audio-visual effects — amazed eyebrows were raised as snowflakes flew around George and sharp intakes of breath indicated the terrifying screaming. And besides subtle hints hidden skillfully in the former part of the play, it worth mentioning that the last scene was rather thought-provoking with George calling himself to be the third mouse before his suicide.

 

Multiple dimensions contributed to the breath-taking scene

 

Antigone

 

With bare props, the show began with the manager’s prologue to introduce the background of the play and ended with the explanation from the manager again to indicate the drama is a “ play within a play”. In this drama, the question of “ whether the will of autocrat crowned as laws can be wielded against the laws of heaven or God which stands for the human nature and our inborn ethnic” is discussed from the beginning to the end, which is too often neglected or feared to be talked about in an authoritarian regime. The twist that Antigone is in fact a robot installed with the memories of the heroine in the end took the audience by surprise and took the play to a higher philosophical level.

 

The daring performance won wild applause

 

Dancing along to music, 20 years’ a Drama Night

 

Despite the thrilling after taste of drama lingering around the hall, charming dancers from Green Fairy soon waved away all those raging emotions with broad smiles and the classic Broadway musical adapted by TNS( The Next Stage) contributed to the energetic atmosphere. Thoroughly involved in vintage jazz and cheerful musicals, everyone let go along with swinging hemlines of the dancers, falling for the fascinating night of drama.

 

It was such an audio-visual feast

 

After all the blast, Professor MAO was invited on the stage on behalf of the judges to comment on the distinguished gathering. Having recalled the past sensationally, he expressed gratitude towards all the performers for their diligent preparations as well as the joint efforts of everyone who lit up the Drama Night. Meanwhile, he pointed out that the abuse of violence were rather inappropriate served as a tool to arouse attention.

 

He then commented on the four plays with professional insights: For Mrs. Warren’s Profession, the drama maintained all the necessary elements of the original story and by combining social criticism, irony and humour together, the play strengthened the power of the theme effectively. Besides, the Pillowman successfully depicted a complicated, violent, mournful yet touching story, in which he favored the flashback the most and regarded the performance highly. As for Mousetrap, Professor MAO praised the suspense built up in good paceas well as the excellent use of lightning. Last but not least, having done a good job in reconstructing the original version into a modern theatrical performance, Antigone appeared to be the most experimental among the contestants.

 

The old gang was young as ever

 

19 years ago the seeds of Drama Night was spread in a fund raise box along with fair wishes for preserving the spirit of drama; and now those wildest dreams have turned into striking skyscrapers. And the big moment of witnessing the born of new energy finally cameas honorable guest spresented the accomplished with awards and plaudits — Being the biggest winner this year, the Pillowman swept 6 awards at a time including the Best Leading Man, the Best Side Man, the Best Director, the Best Stage Effect, the Best Adapted Screen play and the First Prize for the Best Play; while the Third Prize for the Best Play went to Mousetrap and Mrs Warren’s Profession, Antigone was awarded with the Best Leading Actress and the Second Prize for the Best Play.

 

The audience witnessed the born of new energy

 

Birthday candles blown out, another 20 years awaits

 

An exceptional birthday cake lying on a cart was pushed out in the middle of the stage while the ever familiar birthday song was sung. Lights dimmed to pay homage to this young adult’s 20th birthday. All teachers and members of all the groups were invited on stage to kindle this highlight moment. It was such a heart-touching scene to watch. People, be it young or old, shared the same best wishes for a custom that deserves our care and inheritance.

 

Happy 20th birthday!

 

Walking out of the hall into the cozy summer breeze, the audience shared sincere smiles and excited whispers with their companions, which was indeed an echo to MAO’s fair wishes to drama — “ to shock, to entertain, to educate and to cure.” We have every reason to believe that the Drama Night, as well as the purest spirit of drama, will play acontinually important role in helping us explore the realm of literature, shaping our values and promoting our sense of aesthetics.