Themes of hybrid identity and an increasingly globalized industrial society take center stage at Asia Society this Saturday, May 21, at the American premiere of Angel in the Slums, a new production from Italy featuring a mixed cast of Chinese, Chinese-Italian, and Italian performers under the direction of Gianluca Barbdadori.
Lead performer Shi Yang, originally from China's Shandong province and now a resident of Milan, Italy, is equally versed in Beijing Opera and Commedia dell'arte. Shi draws on both these traditions for his portrayal of Yu Lian, a dual male/female protagonist struggling to survive in the Italian city of Prato, a textile center which is itself grappling with identity questions brought on by a population that is 30% Chinese immigrants.
Loosely derived from both Bertolt Brecht's The Good Person of Szechuan and a classic Chinese legend, the play dramatizes the struggle for coherence, both within an individual and a community, in a one-of-a-kind theatrical experience.
Angel in the Slums will be performed in Mandarin with English and Italian subtitles. The play is being presented as part of the 2011 Divinamente New York festival, the offshoot of a Rome event dedicated to exploring spiritual themes through the arts.
Watch highlights from the production below (no subtitles), and click here for tickets.
2011 Divinamente NYC Festival