Meng Jinghui has been credited with revitalizing Chinese theater by popularizing the avant-garde. Mixing high culture with mass culture, his plays address China’s enduring revolutionary nostalgia and current social problems
Since premiering his pioneering linguistic experiment I Love XXX in Beijing nearly twenty-five years ago, Meng Jinghui has been credited with revitalizing Chinese theater by popularizing the avant-garde. Mixing high culture with mass culture, his plays address China’s enduring revolutionary nostalgia and current social problems, challenging the artistic status quo from the mainstream rather than the margins. His creations range from new interpretations of canonical Western masters like Shakespeare and Genet to improvisational collaborations with actors on original works. This anthology from China’s most influential theater creator makes his plays available to an international readership in English for the first time.
The collection, chosen by Meng and renowned Chinese theater scholar and translator Claire Conceison, represents the breadth of Meng’s work and illuminates late twentieth- and twenty-first-century creative practices that transcend the conventional category of playwright. I Love XXX includes the title piece, Longing for Worldly Pleasures, The Bedbug, Head Without Tail, and Two Dogs’ Opinions on Life, as well as a DVD featuring selected scenes from each of the plays.
The work of celebrated avant-garde director Meng Jinghui is integral to the renewed popularity of Huaju (spoken drama). Meng is a resident director of the National Theatre Company of China in Beijing. He is also artistic director of the independent PlayPlay Studio, a collaborative group organized in the mid 1990s.
Meng’s signature work, Si Fan, juxtaposed a traditional Ming dynasty kunshan opera with stories from Boccaccio’s Decameron, and caused a sensation in 1993. His adaptations of foreign and newly written Chinese plays include: The Balcony, Put Down Your Whip—Woyzeck, Gossip Street, Accidental Death of an Anarchist, Rhinoceros in Love, Bootleg Faust and The Bedbug.
Meng’s I Love XXX and Love Ants were produced, like all his plays, in connection with his work unit, the Central Experimental Theatre, but authorities ‘banned’ his controversial Comrade Ah Q, while still in rehearsal. Meng’s first feature film is Chicken Poets (Xiang jimao yiyang fei, 2002).
While exploring larger social issues and politically sensitive subjects, Meng’s productions are comedies infused with playful, animated energy, cajoling and provoking the audience. His style is characterized by a mix of politics and popular culture, and of dark and humorous elements. He juxtaposes disparate styles, periods and cultures, including classical references, current events and pop culture—TV, film and the latest slang. Recurrent elements include mime, dance, music, poetry and prose, a vignette structure with a chorus of actors playing multiple roles, improvisation and spontaneity, sound and movement rhythm games, vocal ‘sound parts’ and gibberish, a rock band and multi-media. The ‘Meng style’ is so popular that other directors imitate his unconventional techniques. Frequent collaborators are his wife, writer Liao Yimei, and musician Zhang Guangtian.
I love XXX
The play is set during China’s revolutionary period. It talks about the history of China seen through the eyes of the "I" of the 20th century. It is created with over seven hundred sentences that begin with the sentence "I love". Stating sentences like "I love hygiene" that a character states while the other one states the opposite "I love NOT hygiene!". Verbal collage is a technique used throughout the play to create funny and ridiculous sentences used to talk about history. Meng also repeats some sentences throughout the play.
Part One: The Less Said the Better The author sets of the play with the lines "I love light, I love and so there was light, I love you, I love and so there was you." These lines are repeated in Part One, Part Three and Part Four, the last part of the play. In Part One, he starts talking about reason why he loved the year 1900. He then talks about great masters who died, and stars that are born around the time. He addresses the audience for the first time, and the acknowledgement that he is talking about a play "I love making you watch a play, what a play that nothing can be done about" He then talked about the top ten world event of 1900. Which include:
1. World’s Fair that opens in Paris. 2. New York City Mayor Van Wyck opening the Rapid Transit Tunnel. 3. The Eight Nation Alliance that invades Beijing. 4. The invention of the Browning Pistol. The invention of the Nobel Prize by Swedish scientist Alfred Novel. The invention of Tango by someone named Tango. 5. Ohio state’s law prohibiting college upperclassmen from hazing freshman. 6. Announcement made in Barcelona by a group of medical doctors in which they say that X-rays can be used for effective treatment for great cancer and the increase of milk production. 7. Massive assembly line calling for the reinstatement of polygamy in Greece due to the increase of homosexual male population. 8. High brow art in Paris while Madame Butterfly is being represented in Shanghai. Meanwhile, politicians are engaging in ‘peachy’ sex scandals in European countries. 9. Killing of seventy eight demonstrators in Paris due to confusion between ‘open the road’ and ‘open the fire’. 10. First Romeo and Juliet is staged in London. Opera of Romeo and Juliet staged in Paris. Ballet of Romeo and Juliet staged in Warsaraw.
Part Two (Surtitles) The author talks about important wars, massacres battles and catastrophes that happened in the 1900s, referring to them as if they "didn’t happen". There are stage directions about the song Revolution by the Beatles being played during a blackout that happens on stage. The author then talks about the Great North East Blackout and the Birth Control Battalion that happens in Beijing.
Part three: Better Said than Sung The authors talks about things that happened when he was born. At first all the things are related to politics and then he talks about his personal likes such as "good manners or studying." He then lists stories and poems he likes. After that he talked about places in Beijing he likes like "Beijing’s Chang’an Avenue or Beijing’s Friendship Store." He talks about the fusion of movements with realism such as "expressionism and realism or symbolism and realism" and literature, He finishes Part Three talking about collective dance and introduces the idea of love while he describes parts of a woman’s body he likes in an erotic way.
Part Four: No Sooner Said than Done The author addresses the audience again and starts mentioning famous figures and their lovers hat he likes such as John Lennon and Yoko Ono, or Mr. Rochester and Jane Eyre. He then goes back again to mentioning things that he personally loves and introduces the idea of loving people, things and ideas who have "had enough." Then he talks about loving things that "crash into the ground." Finally he addresses the audience again telling them things he love about them. He ends up the play saying "I love the stage, I love and so there was the stage, I love leaving, I love and so there was leaving." - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_love_XXX