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A whole new ball game

Updated: 2023-09-09 07:21 ( CHINA DAILY )
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Rehearsals of the latest version of the play.CHINA DAILY

In 2001, Xu, at the time a young actor who had just graduated from the Central Academy of Drama, rose to fame by playing the leading role in a Chinese play, First Time Close Contact, directed by Ren.

"The Chinese script was translated from English and the director (Ren) tried to make the lines sound natural and colloquial. Now, over 20 years later, when we adapted this new version of The Club, we spent lots of time working on the scripts and the language," says Xu. "The actors contributed to the adaptation because many changes were made during the rehearsals. We not only localized the script, but also added elements which reflect contemporary life."

Actor Yu Zhen joined the theater as a young actor at around the same time as Xu. In the 2002 production, Yu played the role of Ted, the club's president. In this new version, Yu will play the same character, alongside actor Yang Mingxin as part of a double casting.

"Yu shaved his head and wore a fake beard to play the role of Ted. He was only 27 years old but Ted is much older than him. Now, Yu is in his late 40s, which is a great age for the role," says Xu.

Feng Yuanzheng, veteran actor and also the president of Beijing People's Art Theatre, played the role of Gerry back in 2002. In the new version, in another double casting, he will reprise the role alongside actor Lei Jia.

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