Preview- The Learned Ladies of Mid-Levels-The Shadow Players


By Orielle Jose'



Western classics are not only approachable, they are also relevant and fun for everybody. it is a special talent of The Shadow Players to find scripts that transcend time and geography and re-present them with a local twist. This time, the group is proud to adapt one of Moliere's classics, The Learned Women (Les Femmes Savantes) and re-propose the Hong Kong-based The Learned Ladies of Mid-Levels.







“To us, this comedy of Molière’s is a great play because its satire of pretension, pedantry disguised as intellectualism, and tiger moms seem to be as relevant now as it was in 1672. The specific translation that we used - which we have also modified extensively, is delightfully written in iambic pentameter and also in rhyming couplets throughout.”



The group always makes sure not to dumb down the language or the plot of the original, focusing instead on tiny changes and visual design to signal the change in setting. "The character of Trissotin was renamed to C.Y. Tang; our adaptation signals a move from France to Asia/Hong Kong without affecting the number of syllables or metrical feet. It would have otherwise messed with the rhythm of the language."



The set design and costumes are inspired by the continental Baroque style of Moliere’s time; the group is faithful to the sharp reds, and have adopted a colour scheme that hints at lavish scenes from a Chinese banquet - echoing the central conflict of the play, which is about the arranged marriage of an unwilling daughter.





The Shadow Players are certainly having a lot of fun creating costumes that suit the needs of the play:

“We have incorporated a range of wigs and prosthetics in our costumes, and they must have worked out quite well because on multiple occasions students have asked how much hairspray we put in CY Tang’s wig. Furthermore, Bernice’s whole drag get-up is awe-inspiring by itself. It consists of a wig that's 2 feet wide, 4-inch heels, huge silicone boobs, and more. As Marc (Ngan, our Artist of the Month) is also way too fit to play a 50-something browbeaten rich businessmen, we had to put on him a fake 8-months pregnant belly, and on top of that a fat suit to complete his look.”






We are looking forward to this production which opens next week, as well as to the group's next production  - a true American classic: "We are currently in pre-production to put our twist on Williams’s The Glass Menagerie later this year, and our team is very excited to experiment with different theatrical styles." Natalie Liu says. "It’ll be more on the realistic side and will be quite different from the comedies that we generally do, so it’ll make for a fun challenge for all of us!"





The group has recently returned from a tour in Australia where they have performed for Europe Day 2017, where the European Union Centre for Global Affairs put on a week-long celebration that would bring together Europe, Asia, and Australia. "It just so happened that we had in our repertoire one of Europe’s finest comedies - Moliere’s Les Femmes Savantes, thoroughly modernised and brought  to the Asian context, and we were also itching to go to Australia! It was a perfect match and we got to work in late 2016. In May 2017 we visited Adelaide and spent a week performing at schools and public venues, and had a lot of fun talking about literature and drama with the super-supportive audience."

More info about The Shadow Players' tour is available here.



The show opens on June 29, 2017 (Thursday) so make sure to get your tickets now! For more information, click here.






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