For the last several years, I’ve been wondering which seminal works would help define China’s emerging cultural identity.
I saw it last night!!! A play performed under the guidance of the avant-garde director, Meng Jinghui, called MURDER IN THE AIR.
I so wish every person I know could see this brilliant, outrageous, hilarious, seductive, engaging work. Alas, this was a one-time event. But hopefully, not for long…
In the 80’s, the 5th generation filmmakers paved the way for a rich cultural dialogue with their gorgeous tableaus and subtle commentary of Chinese society.
In the 90’s, visual artists took up the mantle. Their highly charged, memorable works uniquely captured the gestalt of the thinking person’s China.
But MURDER IN THE AIR combines all of the art forms – dialogue, music, visuals, and choreography into one orgasmic whole.
Get this – it was performed at USC by USC and UCLA students and graduates, but all of whom are non-professionals! Clearly the word of mouth was strong as the near 1,000-seat theater was packed.
The playwright is Meng Jinghui’s wife, who is less lauded (typical) but no less genius.
Major kudos to all those involved with the show. The producer, Simon Li, a mere sophomore at USC, harbored the original dream. The director, Tou U, pulled this off with such aplomb. His amazing staging was stark, crisp and clever. The actors delivered performances with just the right combination of honesty and humor, and sang and danced like pros. I spoke to one actress who was particularly beguiling in her long white satin dress and she told me she is by day an accountant!
I am on a mission to make sure that this work, and others by Meng Jinghui, are performed on a regular basis. Every single person involved with last night’s production should be part of a theater troupe to make this happen. The works should also be translated into English. Yes, some things will get lost in translation (or maybe not if they get a brilliant translator), but there will be so much wonderful, chewy, deeply satisfying material left over that audiences will leave NOT feeling like they have eaten Chinese food that leaves them hungry again in half an hour. No, this meal will last you a lifetime.
The performance was free, and the producers are in debt. So even if you did not get to see the work, you might want to visit www.wowfand.com/konghua to make a donation. With your support, you may see more explosive works from this exciting team.
Video excerpt of the play: http://youtu.be/JGiHiF1uec4