Queen’s debut for Rhinoceros in Love this week

Chinese play hopes to trailblaze solidarity, cultural representation for international students

Queen’s Yu Theatre is presenting Rhinoceros in Love at the Isabel.
Credit: 
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For the cast of Rhinoceros In Love, performing their newest production is more than an extra-curricular activity—it’s a representation of their wider cultural heritage at Queen’s.

After noticing a visible lack of exposure for Chinese dramatic arts on campus, Nicholas Wang—Rhinoceros in Love’s director and co-production manager—wanted to change that. To start, he and some of his close friends founded the Queen’s Yu Theatre Society.

“Half of the international student population [at Queen’s] is from China,” Wang told The Journal. “There are a lot of theatre clubs on campus, but none of them focus on Chinese plays.”

Wang believes that the creation of the club was necessary for Chinese students at Queen’s.

“We just thought it was time for it. A lot of us are Drama majors, so we know all about theatre production and what goes into making plays. In starting this club, we can give opportunities and share experiences with people who love theatre just as much as we do,” he said. 

Originally debuted in China in 1999, Rhinoceros in Love is often regarded as one of the greatest plays in the history of Chinese theatre. It tells the story of a rhinoceros feeder, Ma Lu, as he deals with his unrequited love for his neighbour. 

With Rhinoceros in Love being one of the most popular facets of Chinese pop culture at the moment, Wang and those at the Queen’s Yu Theatre Society saw no greater way of bringing international students together than to produce the aforementioned play.

Produced and directed solely by members of the Queen’s Yu Theatre Society, Rhinoceros in Love is the first play at Queen’s that’s performed entirely in Mandarin. To include English speakers, they’ll be providing subtitles in real time during the performance.

In a roundtable interview with The Journal, members of the cast and crew were eager to explain how pertinent the play is for students in the university atmosphere regarding love and relationships.

“I think [it being in Mandarin] is what attracts audiences the most. We all speak Mandarin as our mother tongue, so it would be the same as if we went to see a play from Shakespeare,” said Liz Song, who plays Daxian, Ma Lu’s best friend, in the show. 

“We have subtitles for people to understand the basic plot, but we don’t [have] subtitles for everything. The subtitles are like another character; they’re there to help you, but they won’t feed you all of the information,” Song added.

Since opening 20 years ago, the play has garnered international acclaim for its deep-cutting plot, introspective themes, and lovable characters. Despite only being translated into English in 2012, the play has quickly spread across the globe as a growing theatrical phenomenon. 

Wang and the Queen’s Yu Theatre Society are one of only few clubs in the country contributing to this phenomenon. They know this all too well—but for them, it makes the experience all the more gratifying.

Channeling excitement and anticipation in performing Rhinoceros in Love, the cast hopes to bring a little bit of China to the campus atmosphere—and hopefully bring people together in the process.

Rhinoceros in Love will be playing at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts from March 14 to 17.

Corrections

March 15, 2019

This article incorrectly described the play's plot as following a "rhinoceros bottom feeder." In fact, it follows a man who feeds rhinoceroses as an occuptation. 

The Journal regrets the error.

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