Chinese opera “Mouse Daughter's Marriage” | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 31, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, May 31, 2012

Theater in Asia

Chinese opera “Mouse Daughter's Marriage”

Scenes from “Mouse Daughter's Marriage” and “Haar Taranga” (right). Photo: Jamil Mahmud

With a vision to demonstrate the diversity of Asian theatre, the weeklong “International Theatre Festival, Seminar and Workshop” presented a traditional Chinese opera on May 29 (third day) at the National Theatre Hall, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy.
Arranged by the Bangladesh centre of International Theatre Institute (ITI), the festival on its third day saw staging of Aranyak Natyadal's resurrected version of the Munier Chowdhury classic “Kabor”, and Oikik Theatre's (Narayanganj) “Haar Taranga”. The plays were staged respectively at the Studio Theatre Hall and Experimental Theatre Hall.
Nanning Yue Opera is the one of four troupes from overseas at the festival. Directed by Hao Yun, the opera, “Mouse Daughter's Marriage”, was a vibrant display of traditional Chinese art forms such as martial art; although the performance was a light comedy. Each and every performer demonstrated martial art at times -- sometimes to articulate ferocity and at others, exuberance.
Chua Soo Pong, the artistic advisor and playwright, said that the opera has been designed especially for the young. “Mouse Daughter's Marriage” depicts a mouse's daughter (Yu Ren) seeking a husband. Three eligible bachelors -- Black Cloud (Fang Ning), Wind (Liang Wei Da) and Wall (He Hui Lin) -- come and ask for her hand in marriage. But the mother and daughter reject them because in their opinion, they are not rich, powerful or famous.
The cast also includes Ning Jing, Huang Jun Cheng and Liang Su Mei. The opera was performed on a flat surface, as there was no set designing involved, except a white backdrop with blue reflection on it. Yet the performance was colourful because the actors were attired in bright costumes and had heavily painted faces.
The Chinese dialogues created little barrier to understanding the plot because of the comprehensible gestures that resembled mimicry. As the Chinese love bright colours, the light seemed overexposed sometimes, especially on white costumes.
The opera premiered in 2003. According to Chua Soo Pong, the innovative work had toured over 200 schools in Singapore and was presented at international theatre festivals in China, Germany, Indonesia and Malaysia over the last couple of years.
Fang Ning is the producer and head of the delegation, while Lin Liang Shan composed the opera.
Aranyak's “Kabor” was the first play by the troupe back in the early 1970s. The Munier Chowdhury classic has been resurrected recently on the occasion of the troupe's 40th anniversary. Abu Hasim Masuduzzaman directed the new version. A group of young actors including Arif Hossain, Sazzad Sazu, Abu Hasim Masuduzzaman, Sujat Shimul, Ayon Ghosh, Sharmin Hayat and Firoz Masum enacted different roles in the play.
In memory of the play's first show, the new production is staged under low light. Only few lanterns were used for the play.
Oikik Theatre's “Haar Taranga” has been directed by Shoyeb Monir. The play circles around a group of indigenous people who fight for their existence.
Today, Pallabi Dance Centre will stage the dance-drama “Shapmochon” at the National Theatre Hall, while Nagarik Natya Sampraday and Bangla Theatre will stage “Achalayatan” and “Distant Near” respectively at the Experimental Theatre Hall and Studio Theatre Hall.

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