NT's Frankenstein watched by fans in Beijing
11th Jul 2012
This summer audiences in Beijng were able to watch a cinema-cast of The National Theatre’s wildly popular Frankenstein – the first time a theatre production has been screened in China.
A limited number of free tickets were offered on a first-come first-served basis to the showings on 29 and 30 June, which were given Chinese subtitles.
Directed by British filmmaker Danny Boyle and adapted from Mary Shelley’s nightmarish tale by Nick Dear, the acclaimed show features actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller, in alternating roles as Victor Frankenstein and his Creature.
Premiering at the London venue in 2011, the show was screened live last year and is back in worldwide cinemas this summer for a limited run.
The production was brought to Beijing’s MOMA Broadway Cinema by the KT Wong Foundation, which encourages cultural and educational exchange between China and the rest of the world.
Lady Linda Wong Davies, who launched the foundation in 2007, told IAM: ‘We always strive to bring something different and new to China. It is very important for China to understand what’s going on outside its own doors.’
Lady Davies said that with the Cultural Olympiad turning the world’s attention to London this summer, it seemed ‘to be a good moment to highlight a wonderful institution – the National Theatre’.
‘In particular, I was quite taken with the production of Frankenstein,’ she said. ‘Boyle is a much-admired director here in China. Trainspotting is one of the most popular cult films with young people.’
Lady Davies added that rising star Cumberbatch is also a ‘huge cult idol’ in China due to the recent BBC series Sherlock, in which he starred.
‘I also wanted to highlight the real story by Mary Shelley,’ she continued. ‘It’s a beautiful story that’s interesting enough to capture the attention of a Chinese audience.’
But it seems the screenings had no problem attracting attention, with a flurry of discussion surrounding the event on Sina Weibo, a Chinese social networking site similar to Twitter.
While Chinese audiences have been able to see very limited screenings of productions from The Royal Ballet and The Metropolitan Opera, Lady Davies said this is the first time a theatre show will be broadcast.
This year the foundation is also working with Northern Ireland Opera to stage Britten’s children’s opera Noye’s Fludde in Belfast Zoo, as part of the London 2012 Festival. The production will then be performed in October as part of the 2012 Beijing International Music Festival.
Photograph © Catherine Ashmore