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A Tale of Two Dreams – Producing Theatre Plays in China

The Dreamer just made its first appearance with a Chinese cast at the Edinburgh Fringe. The play is a Sino-UK collaboration between the Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre (SDAC) and Gecko Theatre. The show, inspired by Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Peony Pavilion by his Chinese contemporary Tang Xianzu, was first put on stage in Shanghai in 2016 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the two great playwrights’ deaths. Nick Yu, vice president of Shanghai Media Group (SMG) and the dramaturge of the show, said the SDAC wanted to do a show like this for a long time and it is great to work with Gecko. “We need crazy ideas for theatre production, and Gecko always gives us a lot of new things,” he said in response to the question of why SDAC decided to work with Gecko. “They really connect with audiences today.”

And it certainly resonates with UK audiences too as The Times put it in its review, “It’s a sign of the show’s success that although the nine actors speak almost entirely in Mandarin, the narrative and the feelings inside it are readable and convincing within Gecko’s trademark swirling, heightened style.” Before The Dreamer made its debut at the Edinburgh Fringe, the British Council invited its Director Rich Rusk, Producer Rosalind Wynn and Nick Yu to talk about the experience of making a theatre co-production in China.