Actor's comments from the rehearsals
James Pennington (East Asian Studies)
Working in a group that brings together such a wide range of skills, academic backgrounds and people has been a phenomenally rewarding experience. As a student of Chinese I have had little opportunity to mix with students from PCI, as our disciplines rarely cross paths. In this project there has been an exciting two way exchange of knowledge, with students from PCI teaching me different acting techniques and introducing me to the world of exciting performances and cultural activities available to Leeds University students. I have done my best to elucidate on some of the main themes in the performance, using my knowledge of Chinese culture and history to help others understand the way that Cao Yu's work relates to modern and traditional Chinese culture.
Rosie Pollock (Performance & Creative Industries)
Being part of this production has been a journey both personally and academically. I have not just learnt about the Cao Yu as a playwright but also about Chinese culture and tradition. It has helped me as a theatre student to step out of my comfort zone and look at theatre from all across the globe.
Dominic Kinsky (East Asian Studies)
My desire to take part in this production was informed by my avid interest in Chinese culture, and to have the chance to study and perform plays written by Cao Yu has been both a pleasure and a privilege. Getting to grips with three different characters for our production, through close study of the script and the helpful input of our excellent director, Dr. David Jiang, has been a challenging, yet riveting experience.
Emily Dent (Performance & Creative Industries)
The Cao Yuo project has been a great experience. Having not studied China before I found the project engaging and interesting and I have loved working with the group on something so different. It is hard to imagine the confined lives of some of the characters and this performance really helps you to empathise with the characters and the social values in China at the time. I would definitely recommend these plays to anyone. It has been a really fun few weeks and I will be sad when the show is over!
Sarah Little (Performance & Creative Industries)
This has been a fascinating challenge. I have enjoyed working with an excellent interdisciplinary cast, each member contributing their own context and understanding to the piece which has invested the project with a rich and diverse texture. Adapting already translated scripts has provided a unique challenge in terms of the representation of language and culture, though when we consider the characters from our respective contemporary perspectives in many ways these stories are about relationships which are timeless and so our empathy with them and our desire to get under their skin has felt natural from the start.
Lorna Tinsley (Performance & Creative Industries)
Working on the Cao Yu project has been enlightening and challenging - as a Theatre & Performance student I am used to working with students from the same background as me, with the same kinds of interests both theatrically and artistically, however getting to work with students from different disciplines, especially those who have experience of China and Chinese culture, has been extremely eye opening and enjoyable, and I think as a group we have all benefitted from each other's different skills and strengths.
Laura Barnes (East Asian Studies)
I am really enjoying being in a production and getting back into acting. I love the character I play and feel quite close to her in personality. Although I can't relate to her situation, being a Chinese language student has helped me understand her reactions and the situation she is in. I like that the cast is from different backgrounds; the performance arts students can help with acting tips and the language students can give cultural insight.
Duncan Hull (East Asian Studies)
As a Chinese student I've found studying and performing some of the work of one of China's most important playwrights extremely fascinating. Despite the difference in culture I found the characters surprisingly easy to empathise with, even when their choices initially struck me as unusual. Taking part in the project has been a fantastic, if challenging, experience, giving me the opportunity to work with people from other disciplines and a deeper insight into Chinese culture.
Luci Fish (Performance & Creative Industries)
The project has been a really exciting experience and very different to anything I've done before as not only have we participated as the actors but have had the chance to be co-authors and directors too; we have all input into decisions such as which plays and scenes were chosen, which characters should feature and how they should be presented. At first it was difficult to get into the mind-set of characters from early twentieth century China but with some help from David Jiang and our peers on the Chinese course, we came to understand the context and really empathize with the issues and themes. Now we're just excited to perform the final piece, 'The Sun is not For Us'!
Emily Slater (Performance Creative Industries)
Working on an inter-disciplinary project has been really beneficial in terms of devising and working with the text. As a performance student with a very little understanding of Chinese culture and obviously no understanding of the language, it has been vital to rehearse in a mixed group where other people can share their knowledge so that we can all gain a better understanding of the plays and characters we are working with. I have found it interesting to draw parallels between the strong female characters across the four plays we are looking at and to discover more about the position and expectation of women and their role within family constructs. David has brought a calm and happy energy to the process which has helped bring our group together.
All photos by ollie.jenkins.com.