Internationally acclaimed Chinese avant-garde theatre director Tian Gebing invited Polish composer Piotr Kurek and actor Szymon Czacki to take part in his new project 500 meters at Theater der Welt festival in Hamburg.
The production by Tian's Beijing based company Paper Tiger Theater Studio combines performance, dance, text, music and video in telling a story inspired by both Franz Kafka's The Great Wall of China with research materials from architects, engineers and construction workers involved in today's large-scale building projects, such as harbour conversion in Ningbo-Zhoushan region in China or deepening of the Elbe in Hamburg.
The performance takes Kafka's image of the 21.000 km long wall as a signifier of the contemporary human's endless action of reconstructing the world, in which the individual remains deeply confused. Paper Tiger Theater Studio created a performance, where the several-thousand-year-old history of China and its globalised present time mirror each other as well as European and Chinese phantasies of one another.
For both Piotr Kurek and Szymon Czacki it was the second opportunity to work with Tian Gebing, after the production of Decalogue at the Helena Modrzejewska National Stary Theatre in Kraków in 2016. The play, which had been an unusual take on the Ten Commandments, had been praised for beautiful choreography and visual values.
Following the fruitful collaboration in Poland, the Chinese director invited Polish artists for a month-long stay in Beijing, where intense rehearsals and preparations to 500 meters were set.
World premiere of the play 500 meters took place on 26th May 2017 in Thalia Theater in Hamburg.
More information about the play is available on the Theater der Welt festival's website.
The project was supported by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute under its flagship brand Culture.pl.