This was the first Chinese language Shakespeare play performed from our Folio Translation Project.
Produced by the Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre, this was the first time that Henry V had ever been staged professionally in China.
It played in Shanghai from 11–27 November 2016, and moved the traditional 16th-century setting to contemporary China. Eight male and eight female actors performed in the play, with Lan Haimeng taking on the title role.
During the development of the translation, Nick Yu Rongjun , who edited the translated script, spent time in the RSC rehearsal room to see how actors, directors and voice practitioners approach Shakespeare’s text. After the first draft was completed, we tested the new translation through a series of workshops with Chinese actors before going into rehearsals.
Lan Haimeng - Henry V
Ren Shan - Canterbury, Fluellen
Gao Hongliang - French King, Bardolph, Empingham
Chen Wenbo - Pistol
Guo Lin - Dauphin, McMorris
Zhao Haitao - Nym, Gower
Bao Er - Wiliams, Ely, Grey, Governor
Si Kun - Westmorland, Bates
Fu Zhonghao - Scroop, Orleans
Xie Chengying - Exeter
You Mei - Montjoy
Li Chentao - Mistress Quickly, Queen Isabel
Xu Manman - Constable, Cambridge
Fan Yilin - Katherine, French Soldier
Fu Yawen - Alice, Gloucester
Liu Yuting - Boy, Court
The creative team
Translator - So Kwok Wan
Editor - Nick Yu Rongjun
Director - Owen Horsley
Movement Director - Polly Bennett
Set and Costume Designer - James Donnelly
Lighting Designer - Kristin Hjelm
Owen explained some of the ideas behind the production: "The challenge was clear: to create an actor-friendly, audience-accessible and performable Mandarin translation of Henry V, then mount a production in one of Shanghai’s most prominent theatres with 16 Chinese actors.
"As the rehearsals progressed, myself and Movement Director Polly Bennett adopted an ensemble way of working with the company, an approach that encourages the actors to feel equally responsible for telling the story and keeping the play alive and moving. Henry V was an obscure choice for the actors initially and, at first, the subject matter and translation were major obstacles to their understanding of the play. We moved away from the academic idea of ‘understanding’ and got the actors to empathise with this young man who had been thrust into power, and to invest in this world that had, equally, been thrust into a period of war."