A MADMAN DIARY
2011 Beijing International Youth Theatre Festival, World Premiere.
2012 ‘The Autumn of China’ Theatrical Performance, Berlin.
2014 Macau Arts Festival
2014 Shanghai International Arts Festival.
2015 Tianjin Grand Theatre Festival
Based on the novel of renowned Chinese writer Lu Xun, A Madman’s Diary was the breakthrough production of New Youth Group. The work was premiered at Beijing International Youth Theatre Festival in 2011, and subsequently toured to Tokyo, Berlin, Macau, Shanghai and Tianjin.
The short story A Madman’s Diary depicts the feelings and thoughts of a ‘Madman’, who everyone else considered as a lunatic, and the world in which he lives. He found cannibalism both in his family and the village around him, and he was certain that he would be forced to eat people or being eaten by others. Therefore the madman is locked up. He refused to eat any food served by his family, for he doubted the ingredients, and he also refused to get any medical treatment. The only thing he ever made efforts to do was persuading others not to eat people. In the end, the madman was convinced that his late sister had been eaten up by his brother, and he himself may have unwittingly tasted her flesh. He cried in despair: “Save the children…”
There are full of ravings in the drama, but they interrogate and question the Chinese society. The term ‘Cannibalism/ Eat people’ is a symbol, which can be referred to many things. It also points out the foolishness and the transmigration of violence in reality.
2011 Beijing International Youth Theatre Festival marks A Madman’s Diary’s premiere. Later in 2012, this show attended Festival/Tokyo and ‘The Autumn of China’ Theatrical Performance in Berlin. And in 2014, it was invited to Macau Arts Festival, and Shanghai International Arts Festival.
On the stage……
The drama A Madman’s Diary does not simply rewrite the story of Lu Xun. It presents the diary as monologue and dialogue on the stage. Apart from the main character “Madman”, the scriptwriter Zhuang Jiayun creatively introduced chorus in the drama for narration, comments and shifts between scenes. The characters come out of the chorus from time to time and becomes one of those who is harboring the thoughts of cannibalism, the Brother, Mr. He, Chen Laowu, etc. The one-to-many relationship on the stage makes every minute full of strength and collision, expressing awakening, self-examination, and struggle through the dispute and confrontation between the madman and other characters.
Stage of Ruins
A Madman’s Diary sets in a ruin. The stage is covered with hundreds of bricks and stones, among which the iron frame can be moved around and thus it is a mobile stage. The actors and actress walk in the ruin, fumbling, and digging. Immersed in dusts and sands, the bodies are stimulated, releasing all the potentials inside.
The ruin is also a metaphor of the reality: the ruins of the substance might be cleared up and reconstructed, but the wasteland of minds will linger, breeding more and more numb people.
From the Director
When I was in high school, I came across the selected works of Lu Xun through study. I read a few lines and found nothing but terror and panic in them. At that time, I didn’t understand the ‘strange’ stories, nor did I like them much. In 2011, we were trying to find the suitable Chinese scripts but didn’t turn out to be successful, so I decided to adapt novels. By accident, I happened to read A Madman’s Diary again and was stricken at once. It was the exact story I had been looking for.
Lu Xun built his unique literature world by paying particular attention to each Chinese character, who struggled with certain challenges and some of which still exist today. In the Madman’s opinion, other normal characters along with the normal world are horrific and confusing. The narrative style of this story is that the Madman thinks and tells everything in a reversal way, yet he sees more clearly than those around him. What we are trying to do through this play is to channel with the madman and Lu Xun.