There are a thousand Hamlets in a thousand people's eyes. Tonzhub Cering, a young Tibetan drama actor, not only understands the depression portrayed in Hamlet, but also grasps the character's internal struggles and hesitation, recognizing the impulses and explosive power behind him.
In August 2021, the 24-year-old, who portrayed the Danish prince, along with 21 other Tibetan actors, debuted British playwright William Shakespeare's play Hamlet in Lhasa, capital of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region.
The performance marked the first time that this world classic has been staged in Tibetan language on the roof of the world, which deeply moved the audience. But it was not the first Shakespeare's play performed in Tibetan language. Early in 1981, the play of Romeo and Juliet in Tibetan language had been staged in Beijing, which also received high praise.
The 22 actors from Tibet graduated from the Shanghai Theater Academy. To showcase their skills in their graduation drama, the young actors took on the challenging task of performing Hamlet.
"Shakespeare's talent and the temperament of Tibetan youth blend perfectly together. Elements in Tibetan folk stories such as the soul, destiny and people's attitudes toward the world resonate with Shakespeare's playwriting," said Pu Cunxin, a famous Chinese actor, when directed the 22 actors' graduation drama.
"With its long history, the rich Tibetan culture shares common ground with world literature. Interpreting Western dramas through the Tibetan language is a good starting point, and I hope that there will be more opportunities and space for the development of Tibetan dramas," said Tonzhub Cering.
Translating the English play into Tibetan was not an easy task. "But it's a totally awesome experience to play the world classic in Tibetan. Performing the play in Tibetan, my understanding of the character become more profound," he added.
"There is an abundance of hate and revenge in the play, but I noticed Hamlet's capacity for forgivingness during the play," Tonzhub Cering explained, adding most Tibetans are forgiving and gentle.
In May, the actors will bring the Tibetan-Mandarin version of Hamlet back to Shanghai, an eastern metropolis thousands of miles away.
"We are trying to introduce more world classic plays to Tibet and perform them in Tibetan," said Han Wenliang, deputy head of the drama troupe of Tibet, adding that they will stage a children's play this year, the first-ever play in the region.
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