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Tibetan drama graduates stage Hamlet in Lhasa



"To be or not to be, that is the question" -- Tonzhub Cering repeated the classic soliloquies from British playwright William Shakespeare's play Hamlet during his rehearsals.

The 23-year-old has recently staged the masterpiece with 21 other Tibetan drama graduates in Lhasa, capital of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region.

Born in Lhozhag County in Shannan City, Tonzhub Cering loves singing and dancing since childhood just like other Tibetans. He also enjoys reading novels and biographies.

After graduating from high school in 2017, he was enrolled at Shanghai Theater Academy.

He left his hometown on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, traveling thousands of miles to the coastal megacity in pursuit of his dream of being a performer.

"I felt very nervous on stage, as my Mandarin was not good and I couldn't read my lines very well," he recalled. He used to practice Mandarin by talking to his schoolmates and strangers on the streets, and he made good progress in six months.

Tashi Benba Norbu is one of Tonzhub Cering's classmates at the Shanghai Theater Academy. The former performs the role of Prince Hamlet in Mandarin, while the latter performs in Tibetan.

Language was not the problem for Tashi. "It's difficult to play the role due to lack of life experiences. Although I had no trouble memorizing lines, it took me quite a while to fully understand the script," Tashi said.

The Shanghai Theater Academy initiated its first undergraduate course in Tibetan performance in 2017. A total of 22 students from Tibet completed their four-year study in this institute.

The young Tibetans believe that virtues such as justice and kindness presented through outstanding literary works can strike a chord regardless of countries or nationalities.

To introduce Shakespeare's play to the audience on the plateau, they blended some Tibetan elements such as Tibetan singing and dancing into the play.

Apart from the actors, a local drama troupe also contributed to the effort by translating the play.

"The language of Shakespearean plays is highly poetic, therefore, it is very difficult to maintain the style of the original text while making Tibetan audience understand it," said Nyima Tonzhub, who took part in the translation work. He spent several days translating the classic soliloquies -- To be or not to be, that is the question.

Thanks to all these efforts, the famous Western play has not only received wide acclamation from the industry but also won applause from the Tibetan audience.

"This was my first time to watch Hamlet with Tibetan characters in Lhasa. I felt so close to a world classic," said Basang, a Lhasa resident.


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