Meng Jinghui, arguably the most influential director of China's avant-garde stage, has returned to experimenting in small theatre with a new show, which debuts tonight at the Oriental Experimental Theatre in Beijing.
He has worked on a number of commercial commissions in the past six years, such as the musical Amber and the children's game-like play Magic Mountain, which was staged at a gymnasium for thousands of viewers.
His last small theatre production was Bootleg Faust at the end of 2000.
His first small theatre work after a hiatus of almost six years is entitled The Flower in the Mirror, The Moon on the Water (Jinghua Shuiyue), which will continue through May 28.
The drama has drawn inspiration from Chinese contemporary poet Xi Chuan's poem of the same title.
Yet Meng argued that he has never walked far away from small theatre in the last six years. He was always thinking of stories and themes until Xi's poem got his creative juices flowing.
Even though the poem or the drama doesn't have a complete story, nor specific roles and a clear theme, Meng said he has created an entire new dramatic vocabulary in China.
The whole production is composed of nine fluid and dreamy scenes: I dreamed of you last night, Shadow, The girl with earphones, Map, Story of a face, Poison, Pas De Deux, Peony and You have a crush on me.
Each presents the broken pieces of the messy metropolitan life, people's mental crashes, fatalistic roles, black memories and cruel reality.
"I am sure the audience could not understand what happens on stage, but they would definitely feel a certain inexplicable excitement, an echo in their inner heart," the director told China Daily.
"The abstract play does not mean that I fool the audience. I am responsible for every audience and each of my productions shows them the real Meng Jinghui," he said.
He added that the crew would hold an after-show discussion every night and welcome the audience to share their reviews with the director himself and all the cast and crew.
It is difficult to characterize Meng's new work because his modus operandi is to push the boundaries of all genres, including the paintings, installations, architecture, music, multimedia and many modern art genres. But eventually, all the eclectic elements intertwine to make up his innovative work.
In addition to six performers whom Meng defines as the Man, the Woman, the Mirror, the Flower, the Water and the Moon, Meng works with the electronic musician Feng Jiangzhou, song-writer Shao Yanpeng, multimedia producer Jiang Zhi, installation artist Shen Shaomin and sculptor Jiang Jie.