“Psychedelic Variations” stills. The Memo poster. (All photos provided by Shanghai Modern Drama Club) Drawing: Feng Xiaoyu
■Reporter Wang Xiaoli
As the city with the largest number of cafes in the world, Shanghai’s coffee culture is the gene hidden in the urban fabric. Among the cultural creations connected with coffee, coffee drama has attracted much attention and love for its avant-garde nature. From April 28th to May 4th, the 3rd Coffee Theater Festival and French Cafe Theater Festival will land in Shanghai’s popular punching place – Shangsheng Xinsuo. As a project of the 2023 Sino-French Cultural Spring, Shanghai Modern Drama Club will present three works of contemporary French drama masters, “Memorandum”, “Psychedelic Variations” and “Secrets of Salary Increase”.
“Coffee drama originated in France, and its characteristics are avant-garde and exploratory.” According to Zhang Yu, head of Shanghai Modern Drama Club, from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s, a group of French theater workers were dissatisfied with the popularity of commercial dramas. , began to explore the frontiers of theater in small performance venues such as cafes, and unexpectedly became popular in France, and gradually spread to Europe. After entering China, it led to the small theater movement. From Paris to Shanghai, the pursuit of drama has never stopped.
The “Memorandum” staged this time is one of only two stage plays created by the famous French screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière. A single man who has 134 “hunting” experiences but suffers from love phobia meets a strange woman unexpectedly, and the two lonely souls start an incredible “emotional search”. According to reports, the play has set up many puzzles, and the characters’ psychological transition motives set up suspense after chain, and the audience may suddenly realize it after seeing the ending. The play is directed by young director Gu Xin, starring actors Sai Kaiyuan and Ning Chuaner.
Eric-Emmanuel Schmidt, who wrote “Psychedelic Variations”, is a playwright and novelist active in French literary circles today. The protagonist in the play, Abel Zinorko, the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, is withdrawn and lives alone on a small island. He collected the love letters between himself and his lover over the years into a book, and published a book, which aroused the curiosity of reporter Eric Larsan. The interview turns into a brutal game of twists and turns over the secrets behind this collection of love letters. The work is directed by young director Shen Xufei, starring actors Su Junjie and Song Guanting.
In the plays of novelist Georges Perec, play is everywhere, as in the search for identity and the anxiety of disappearance. “The Secret of Salary Raise” created by him can be regarded as a black humorous salary increase strategy. The play is full of characteristic plots and forms of French avant-garde dramas. , Negate (negative) assumptions, choices, and conclusions instead, bringing the audience an experience similar to “script killing”. In 2010, the play was directed by French director Denis Ganon for the Modern Drama Club, and this revival is directed by the young dramatist Manor.