Revolving around an unknown charred body lying in a black coffin, the mysterious play “Deep in the Heart” will be presented at the Shanghai Dramatic Arts Center on Saturday.
Directed by He Nian, the play is a dark comedy adapted from a film of the same name, which won the Grand Prize at the 30th Warsaw International Film Festival in Poland.
Linking three contemporary stories, the play progresses on a non-linear timeline. Living in the same village, three families with their own secrets come to identify the body. A missing teenager? A husband who abuses his wife? A thug in debt? The three families take advantage of the unidentifiable body to cover up their scandals.
Unlike the movie, in which the story takes place in a rural village in Henan Province, the theatrical version of “Deep in the Heart” takes place in a village closely linked to Guizhou Province in the light of the set design.
A 12-meter-high stilt building, a common style for traditional Chinese residences in Guizhou that prevents water from flowing, was constructed on the revolving stage.
The building houses seven spaces, including a bedroom, a living room and a small shop. Even the goods placed in the shop were carefully selected by the team based on a field visit to Guizhou.
Fourteen trucks were needed to transport the 4,500 kilogram building.
Two cameramen will take the stage and shoot videos of actors in real time. Broadcast on the big screen and numerous televisions placed on either side of the stage, the videos allow the whole audience to see the details of the show. Underwater and aerial shots will also be used.
“The play explores our distance from evil,” He said. “Most of us believe we are far from evil, but across the room we find that in fact we are very close to it.”
All the actors will speak in the dialects of Guizhou. In addition, the music of folk singer Yao Shisan, originally from Guizhou, adds an ethnic touch to the piece.
In order to create an immersive experience, the theater has several “village seats”, which are placed on the second floor of a small building on the left side of the stage, for spectators.
Dates: December 18-January 9, 7:30 p.m. (2 p.m. Sunday, no performance Monday)
Banknotes: 180-580 yuan
Location: Shanghai Drama Center
Address: 288 chemin Anfu