The bilingual drama Agamemnon, a co-production of the National Theater Company of China and the National Theater of Greece, represents a refreshing innovation for Chinese theater lovers.
The play by ancient Greek tragedian Aeschylus, often called the "father of tragedy", is the first part of his only extant trilogy. It is a story about patriarchy, matriarchy, revenge and justice. In the story, Agamemnon sacrifices his daughter to win the Trojan War. After his triumphant return, the king is slain by his wife and her lover.
Directed by Stathis Livathinos, artistic director of the NTG, Agamemnon embodies a profound cooperation between China and Greece. "To have a bilingual presentation of a play means you hear two languages, two kinds of actors, two schools. Of course it's a very big risk. But it's better to go with a risk than with safety. Because I really believe the National Theater should always be the avant-garde," he said.
"Agamemnon is a part of something bigger that doesn't belong only to Greece. This is a theatrical and artistic meeting of two civilizations on stage," Livathinos added.
Du Zhenqing, the actor playing the title role, said this play has been the biggest challenge in his over-40-year acting career. "I need to fully grasp the Greek co-actors' lines to keep the plot flowing. The director is very creative and actively thinking. He integrates a lot of physical movements into the performance – It's like nothing you have seen in China, which creates a very unique experience for our audience."
"Agamemnon shows remarkable directorial skills. Language, movement and music, all the elements come together perfectly. It's a joy to watch," said Luo Jinlin, renowned theater director and professor at the Central Academy of Drama.
The production design and choreography also left a deep impression on the audience. "Combining modernity and tradition creates a beautiful effect. I think the play is a successful introduction of the Greek classic to Chinese people," Song Shikun commented on Damai, the Ticketmaster of China.
Performances will be staged at the National Theater of China through March 2.