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Two college students perform Peking opera version of ‘Othello’

Fusing the charm of Peking opera with the tension of Shakespeare’s famous tragedy. Two Chinese college students stun the audience at the Shakespeare’s Globe Theater with an oriental version of “Othello”.

Black hair, yellow skin, dressed in opera outfit and wielding the moves of Taichi, two college students from Shenyang Normal University made a stir at the Sam Wanamaker Theater Festival held in Shakespeare’s Globe Theater in London. Every year students from Oxford University and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama perform at the festival, but it’s the first time the event included students from China.

And it took four years of sweat and labor to get their four minutes on the stage. Director Wang Yansong, from the Art Research Institute of Shenyang Normal University, teamed up with the students to rehearse the drama that mixes Chinese elements into Shakespeare’s plot.

“We combined Chinese opera art and the movements of Taichi with the lines and plot from the Shakespeare tragedy. We received training on both language and body movement,” performer Wang Jiajia said.

“After we struck the first pose onstage, the whole theater was silent. And when we finished performing, we were overwhelmed by the thunderous applause. I’m so proud that Peking opera can go overseas and get approval from western audiences because of our hard work,” performer Miao Ruimin said.

Miao Ruimin, who played Othello, began training at Peking opera when he was four years old. The successful experience on such a storied stage is giving him more confidence to promote Peking opera and find new ways to inject new energy into the age-old art form. And he’s hoping others will do the same.