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With his stage adaptation of Lao She’s classic novella This Life of Mine, actor-director Fang Xu continues to celebrate the work of the renowned author, Chen Nan reports.
上海千花坊He is a low-ranking policeman, born and raised in Beijing. He has waited for years to become the head of his local police station but is replaced by a new policeman. He gets married but his wife runs away with his best friend. Soon after, he is sent to work in a small town, where he is later told that his son has died.
It’s the story of Fuhai, the protagonist of This Life of Mine, a novella by renowned Chinese writer Lao She (1899-1966), which was published in 1937.上海千花坊
The novella chronicles the life story of Fuhai which is set against the backdrop of the late Qi
ng Dynasty (1644-1911). It was adapted into a monologue of the same name by actor-director Fang上海千花坊女神会所
Xu and premiered at the Central Academy of Drama, from where Fang graduated in 2011.
Enlisting Shu Yi, the son of Lao She, as a consultant, Fang directed and performed the monologu
e himself, before embarking on a nationwide tour with around 60 shows after its debut.上海千花坊
To mark the 120th anniversary of Lao She’s birth this year, Fang decided to revive the
work for the stage on July 27 and 28 at the Capital Theater in Beijing following a three-year hiatus.
“Back in 2011, when I discussed the idea of turning This Life of Mine into a monologue, my colleagues were not really s上海千花坊女神会所
ure about the idea since it was a challenge to tell a man’s life story onstage within the space of 100 minutes all on my ow
n, “recalls the 53-year-old Beijing native. “But I was insistent and it turned out to be the right decision.上海千花坊女神会所
Fuhai tells his life story in a humorous way despite all the suffering and sorrow. He is hopeful about his life, but always ends u
p disappointed. Lao She is sympathetic toward Fuhai, as well as to the suffering of many other poor people livi
ng through those chaotic years,” Fang adds. “What makes this story interesting is that it still works today. When we look ba
ck at our own lives, we, like Fuhai, try to remain positive even when bad things happen.”
After watching Fang’s monologue at its premiere at the Central Academy of Drama in 2011, Shu Yi sa
id: “It’s one of the best adaptations of my father’s works. Fang’s adaptation is loyal to the spirit of his novella.”
Born as Shu Qingchun to a Manchu family in Beijing in 1899, Lao She is best known f
or his vivid descriptions of ordinary life, especially of poor people, which reflect the social reality of the time.
His precise depictions of local hutong life sparkle with his unique sense of humor and the raw dialect of the capital.
Lao She’s novels, including Rickshaw Boy and Four Generations Under One Roof, and his plays, such as Long Xu Gou (Dra
gon Beard Ditch) and Teahouse, have earned him the reputation as a literary master worldwide.
In addition, a thread on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like comments platfor
m, titled “eating alone” contains 226,000 posts and has garnered 290 million hits.
In 2017, WithEating Magazine, a Chinese foodie journal, started its Eati
ng Alone channel on Bilibili, a popular video-sharing website. To date, the channel, wh
ich has 52 episodes explaining how to prepare meals for one, has attracted more than 200 million hits.
In February, the magazine published a book of the same name, listing 65 recipes for dishes ranging fr
om desserts to foreign cuisine, such as roasted ribs, the Korean favorite bibimbap and seafood curry.
To many people’s surprise, it became a best-seller. “We didn’t expect the book to sell so we
ll. We didn’t print enough copies initially,” the magazine said on its Weibo account last month.