Interview: Theater resonates across cultures, crosses language barriers, says Canadian comedian -Xinhua

Interview: Theater resonates across cultures, crosses language barriers, says Canadian comedian

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-03-28 17:06:30

BEIJING, March 28 (Xinhua) -- It is intriguing to adapt an American story into the Chinese language for Chinese audiences and show how much different cultures actually have in common, a Canadian comedian and actor has observed.

"I try to do work between two cultures, not one or the other, but some kind of blend of the two," said Mark Rowswell, a Canadian comedian and Xiangsheng (traditional Chinese cross-talk show) performer, better known by his Chinese stage name Dashan, in a recent interview with Xinhua.

"I was really intrigued by the idea of doing something that was modern Western culture, but doing it in a Chinese way for Chinese audiences," he said.

Rowswell is among the international cast of 11 actors from seven countries who are performing a Mandarin stage adaption of the 1994 Hollywood classic "The Shawshank Redemption." Since its well-accepted January premier in Shenzhen, the piece has also been performed in Shanghai and Beijing.

A seasoned language artist working across Chinese and Canadian cultures for over three decades, Rowswell is committed to conveying the shared experiences among humanity in this "distinctly American story in a famous American movie and a novel by an American writer" to Chinese audiences.

"It's about people, and it's about the human experience. And I think that's what appeals to everyone. It's basically a story about hope," he said. "The experience that the movie explains is something of the human experience."

Rowswell further commented on the significance of language in bridging cultures and forging bonds between people from diverse societies.

"I find in my personal experience, once we get beyond the language barrier, a lot of what we thought were cultural differences were really just language barrier. Once you get beyond that language barrier, then you start to see all the sort of commonality," he said.

"This is part of the magic of theater. There's that suspension of disbelief, and you just believe that these characters speak Chinese because you see it with your own eyes. There they are. The prison warden is speaking, you know, fluent Beijing dialect, and it sounds strange if you are outside of that environment. But when you're in the environment of the theater and there's that suspension of disbelief, it just seems totally natural," the artist added.

On a personal note, Rowswell said the project is his first tour back in China after the pandemic. "It was an opportunity for me to come back and to get back on tour and get back to a little bit more of what my life was like before the pandemic. It's a great opportunity."

Rowswell said he is excited to bring the show to more audiences in cities including Suzhou, Chengdu, and Chongqing during their performance tour around China until August.