2006年1月,《That's Shanghai》,《地下室的男人,绿裙子走了》演出评论

 

the young and the restless
Shanghai's only experimental theater
by Gaelle Le Gall-Nicolas

Shanghai's experimental theater scene might best be described as young, tough, daring, and hard to find. Consisting, in the main, of a colourful crowd of dreamers, musicians, students and drop-outs from Shanghai Theatre Academy, this ragtag band of thespians has taken refuge in one of the city's darkest corners. The Downstream Garage sits on the third floor of an old factory building on Longcao Lu in a remote corner of Xujiahui. It's a challenge to find, but the Garage provides an opportunity for small theater groups who can't afford mainstream performance space.

Here, professionals and amateurs mingle for the duration of a play. These fleeting encounters have produced several groundbreaking works, including a recent staging of The Man in the Basement, Green Skirt Has Gone by Ren Ming Young(任明炀). This oddly-titled, three-act play satirizes the existentialist plays of Sartre and Beckett, and blends influences from Beijing Opera with experimental guitar compositions.

As mentioned above, students from the Shanghai Theatre Academy make up the bulk of the players, but their youth and inexperience hasn't won any sympathy from the hyper-critical audience. Largely made up of theater insiders, some actors receive loud and often rude comments on their performance in mid-act. And, of course, some audience members simply let their feet do the talking.

Fortunately, most of the actors have a thick skin. Says Song Song (宋松): "The problem in China is that people expect everything in a play to make sense. They don't accept the fact that the play could have its own reason to be and they reproach us for [our approach]: ars gratia artis."