Cao Yu, one of the founders of the Beijing People's Art Theater and China's most famous playwright, died on December 13, 1996 aged 86.
Ten years later Poison, a drama written by Wan Fang, Cao's daughter, will be staged in the Small Theater of Beijing People's Art Theater from December 19 to January 21, 2007 in memory of Cao Yu. Wan Fang's involvement in drama started in her childhood when she witnessed the creation of her father's famous dramas. She already has an established reputation as a playwright for Central Opera Theater. Her famous works included the film Black Eyes, TV series Empty Mirror and other TV work and movies.
"The seed of drama has been buried in my heart from my childhood and I have never thought it would burgeon so late," Wan Fang said. "To me there's a sequence: poem, drama, novel, film and TV works -- from difficult to easy. Poems need more genius and I have never thought I could make it. But I really want to try something in playwriting because of the family edification. Since the Beijing People's Art Theater asked me to write a drama two years ago I had been preparing for that. Writing a drama is difficult and that's why it enchants me."
Poison will be played by young actors from the Beijing People's Art Theater including Wu Shanshan, Zhang Zhizhong, Zou Jian, Wang Leim and Wang Xinyu. Director Ren Ming says this drama, a typical family psychodrama, has inherited the spirit of Cao Yu's works.
"Cao Yu's outstanding works such as Thunderstorm and Field are family dramas too," Ren noted.
Poison shows the irreconcilable differences between a father, mother, son and daughter-in-law. The conflict between the mother and daughter-in-law is one of the main themes of the play and the contrast of the successful daughter-in-law and the ordinary son's social roles reflects the miserable reality faced by contemporary men.
Everyone who reads the play is left with a heavy heart. Many men would like to be able to support their family and struggle during this endeavor but in the end they are unable to. The cowardice of men and how they escape from reality are truthfully depicted in this drama.
The reason this play is called Poison is because the playwright wants to show the great harm extreme emotions can inflict on personal relationships.
Before the premiere of Poison four classic plays written by Cao Yu have already performed at the Capital Theater: Sunrise from November 29 to December 3; Beijingers from December 1 to 5; The Wilderness from December 6 to 10; and Thunderstorm from December 9 to 13. Thunderstorm also performed in Tokyo on December 3.
(China.org.cn by Chen Lin, December 13, 2006)