Act Like You Mean It - Shanghai stage

To those who are keen on art or science, Act Like You Mean It presented by Swissnex China would be an event that you won’t like to miss. There are two Shanghai-based professional actors – Ms. Yujiao Gong and Mr. Shichang Jin, both from Shanghai Theatre Academy, presenting the classic balcony scene from Shakespeare’s Romeo, while our Swiss research leaders Anton Rey (Institute of Performing Arts and Film, Zurich University of the Arts) and Thomas Grunwald (Swiss Epilepsy Center) will argue over the authenticity of the two actors’ emotion based on their professional background and research. Below is a report from our intern Jiajun chen to the entire "lecture - performance".

   Mr. Anton Rey is talking to the actor Mr. Shichang Jin.

Mr. Anton Rey is talking to the actor Mr. Shichang Jin.

  Mr. Thomas Grunwald with the actress Ms. Yujiao Gong.

Mr. Thomas Grunwald with the actress Ms. Yujiao Gong.

The rehearsal

Before the show, there was a rehearsal to warm up the actors. As also having experiences in drama, I had planned to pay attention to how they were going to work out the details and what kind of skills they would utilize in the show, but it turned out that their strong emotion of love showed in the rehearsal looked very natural without any obvious acting skills, which made me wonder more whether in the play could true emotion exist? Another thing I had noted in the rehearsal is that two actors and the researchers had close interaction, they talked about the drama, the show, the site and everything, which was a sign of well-built cooperation.

On the stage

Around 7:30, there were no more available seats, but people kept coming in one after another, until the rear area was crowded with spectators.

Pascale Marmier, Executive Director of Swissnex China, delivered an opening speech introducing the event and the crews behind it. Then started the show. Anton Rey presented us the view that in the play good actors used true emotions, like love and hate while Thomas Grunwald insisted that actors were just using skills to make others believe their emotions and their brain generated no true emotion.

In order to prove the point was right, Anton turned off the light and invited two actors to show us the balcony scene, however when it came to every emotional moment, Thomas turned on the light, interrupted the show and showed us his own research on how human brain generated emotions. Then the researchers argued to convince each other. In fact via many rounds of persuasion they were representing the scene happened during the research period. After several the demonstration of the drama and the experience of the actors, Thomas agreed that in the play there could be true emotions if the actors really put their own feelings in it.

 "On Stage" team and "behind stage" team

"On Stage" team and "behind stage" team

 The audience were totally immersed into the performance.

The audience were totally immersed into the performance.

Afterwards

After the researchers agreed with each other, the balcony scene was replayed without any interruption. With the understanding at the theoretic level in art and science, the audience seemed to enjoy much more of the Shakespeare’s drama which though was not quite traditional but was enough funny and emotional.

 In the Q&A part arose several interesting questions among the answers to which words of the actress impressed me most. She said that they actors could really fall in love in the play however it was with the role, and once we were off stage, we were no longer the role then the love in stage shall disappear.

The researchers want more people to get to know their works and they have already carried out the show in Switzerland, Austria and India, now they are in China for the show in Shanghai and Beijing.