The world premiere of "Questioning Heaven (天問),” a Chinese operatic adaptation of Shakespeare's "King Lear,” will be performed by the Taiwan Bangzi Opera Company (台灣豫劇團) at the National Theater from Nov. 27 through Nov. 29.
Written by Pong Ching-hsi (彭鏡禧) and Chen Fang (陳芳), "Questioning Heaven” will explore the issues of human nature and existence, from the concept of family bonds, nationalism, selfishness, and justice to human relations and destiny.
"King Lear” is a tragedy written by Shakespeare from 1603 to 1605. It is more than a tragic story about a father and his family; it is about a king and his kingdom. Thus, to make a Bangzi opera version of Shakespeare's play, the culture context, drama, language, storyline, and performance styles had to be adjusted accordingly.
Directed by Lu Bo-shen (呂柏伸), the opera follows the original structure of play, keeping the storyline of Duanmu Ke (Earl of Gloucester) and sons, and another storyline of Pin He-la (Lear) and daughters.
"Questioning Heaven” created a female version of Lear for Taiwan Bangzi opera diva Wang Hai-ling (王海玲). Wang embraced the challenge of reinterpretation by playing such a complex character.
Moreover, "Storm (風暴)” and "Gouging Out the Eyes (剜目)” are the key scenes that present the suffering and life journey of the main character in the two storylines. Pin (Lear) has the epiphany of her (his) life after experiencing poverty, and begins to put herself (himself) in other's shoes.
Previous Bangzi adaptions of Shakespearean plays include "Bond (約／束)” and "Measure, Measure! (量‧度),” which were respectively based on "The Merchant of Venice” and "Measure of Measure.”
Tickets can be found here.