Tim Supple on what China can learn from global theater strongholds
Updated 23:13, 24-Nov-2019
By Wei Lynn Tang

Tim Supple, a British born, award-winning international theater director commended China's technical skills, facilities, and desire to make spectacular pieces of theater; and said there is much to learn from China in its ability to hold on to strong traditional opera and theater.

But he also said there are other aspects where China could learn from traditional strongholds such as Moscow, London, New York, Berlin, and Paris.

"It is the ability of theater to, in a very healthy way, express what is difficult and challenging for society," Supple told CGTN. "To do this you have to encourage artists and give artists both the ability and scope to say what is difficult for them in society. And this is what makes contemporary theater so strong."

To this end, Supple said an area which Chinese theater needs further development is the "creation of a fully functioning contemporary drama theater." 

"This means nurturing the skills of writers, directors, and of actors to express the contemporary world in strong ways," he added.

"The second thing that China can do, which we all need to do all over the world, is to let in more ideas from outside. Don't be afraid of contemporary theater ideas just because they're not specifically Chinese. We need both," he said.

Supple believes the Daliangshan International Theatre Festival – the first time  western China is hosting such an event – is able to change the region's makeup. This comes as Liangshan is one of the poorest regions in China.

He likened it to England, where he's originally from. "It was a broken country after World War II. Yes, it had 'won the war,' but it was very poor and very much struggling with basic social and economic conditions. The poorest region was in the North around Scotland and north of England."

"They had a very bright idea then, they made what's called the Edinburgh International Festival and the festival is still going strong after 70 over years. It's probably the biggest arts festival in the world, and it's – let's call it a stimulus of great cultural confidence and cultural, social, and economic growth in Scotland and in the UK," he said.

Supple said the Edinburgh International Festival has a massive effect on that region, and on the whole country, and "that's what an arts festival can do."

"And I think the theater festival in Liangshan can have this sort of stimulating energy and also it can celebrate the local culture which is what happened in Scotland as well," he added.