Sat, Jan 22, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Japanese director plans unique take on a classic story

Staff Writer, with CNA

Famed Japanese theater director Tadashi Suzuki, who is in Taipei to work on a local adaptation of the French novel La Dame aux Camelias, said he will transform the famous story into a musical that will wow audiences with its strong Taiwanese flavor.

La Dame aux Camelias, written by French novelist Alexandre Dumas and published in 1848, follows the life of heroine Marguerite Gautier, a sought-after courtesan in Paris, who leaves her lover Armand Duval rather than see him become a social outcast.

The opera La Traviata by Giuseppe Verdi was adapted from the novel.

Suzuki said that instead of using the more familiar opera aria written by Verdi, he has chosen 14 Taiwanese and Mandarin pop songs that will resonate with Taiwanese audiences.

The songs include When Will You Come Again, The Person That I Really Miss and Am I Your True Love, Suzuki said after a short rehearsal in Taipei on Thursday.

“I am always interested in bringing together different cultures and people under a single production,” the 71-year-old director said.

“There will be no fun if a group of similar people come together to do similar things,” Suzuki added.

Suzuki said to add new sparkle to the famous love story, in his version of La Dame aux Camelias he combines the French script with local pop music and places a cast of Taiwanese actors in a modern European set.

He described the relationship between Marguerite and Armand as a dramatic love story that ultimately leads to death or a nervous breakdown, since it is extremely difficult to overcome social class barriers.

Suzuki is a powerhouse of Japanese theater and the founder of the Suzuki method of acting, which emphasizes foot movements and breathing, that lead to a release and channeling of “animal energy.”

Weng Ning-chien (翁寧謙) and Chou Ming-yu (周明宇), who play the lead roles in the production, spent a month training in Japan last year with Suzuki’s troupe to become acquainted with his special methods.

La Dame aux Camelias is being staged at the National Theater from Feb. 10 to Feb. 13 as part of the this year’s Taiwan International Festival of Arts, before it shifts to the Chihshan Hall in Kaohsiung on Feb. 19 and Feb. 20.

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