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The play explores the core desire of human nature and will never be out of date.
The Open Couple is a romantic play which was written by Dario Fo together with his wife Franca Rame, who later acted in the adapted TV drama. It was written in 1983.
In this farce about sexual politics in marriage, a man persuades his suicidal wife that an open marriage is politically correct and embarks on dalliances with younger women, to her dismay and fury. After deciding to be on her own, the tables are turned when she confesses to a new man, Nobel prize nominated professor and inspired singer-songwriter; it is the husband who becomes suicidal.
In real life we are always accustomed to the so-called “model couples” and we might believe that loving someone means sweetness and love for the whole life. However, uncertainty lies in everything. This is a true story of a married life, a vivid portrayal of an unhappy marriage, presented in a special artistic way.
The Open Couple talks with the audience directly and indirectly, triggering all sorts of reflections. It depicts a true life story of a couple, exploring whether an open relationship is really what keeps love fresh from a realistic perspective.
Although director Li Minyuan has adapted more than 50% of the script, he still keeps the original structure to show “respect for the artist and respect for the audience”.
Dario Fo’s rights broker flew specifically from Italy to Shanghai to watch the first round of The Open Couple at Shanghai Drama Arts Center • D6. The adaptation of the show in the current context makes Dario Bofu’s broker certain that the play explores the core desire of human nature, thus will never be out of date.
Playwright: Dario Fo
Dario Fo was an Italian actor–playwright, comedian, singer, theatre director, stage designer, songwriter, painter, political campaigner for the Italian left-wing and the recipient of the 1997 Nobel Prize in Literature. In his time he was “arguably the most widely performed contemporary playwright in world theatre”.
His plays have been translated into 30 languages and performed across the world. His receipt of the 1997 Nobel Prize in Literature marked the “international acknowledgment of Fo as a major figure in twentieth-century world theatre”. The Swedish Academy praised Fo as a writer “who emulates the jesters of the Middle Ages in scourging authority and upholding the dignity of the downtrodden”. He passed away in October 2016 at the age of 90.
Director: Li Minyuan
Li Mingyuan is now a lecturer at Shanghai Theatre Academy. He grew up in Taiwan and received doctor’s degree in France. Having practical theatrical experience of almost 20 years, he served as a director, actor, lecturer, and was involved in various technical work. He was nominated for Best Director in the drama competition of Taiwanese colleges.
In a multi-cultural context, he holds an open and respectful attitude toward human nature. Li believes that although the modern society is different from the era when they play was written, for most couples, men are still the dominant side in the marriage. When men are over-powerful, how can women strike a balance? More interestingly, in the play it is when the woman makes a roar that the man begins to reflect on it. So only when both sides respect each other and perform their own duties can the married life be more harmonious.
Watching the improvised performance in The Open Couple for two hours is like doing an extremely soothing SPA. You can’t really say you have seen it until you have seen it for at least three times.
Relationships are all about pushing and pulling, hurting and baring until one side finally realizes that he/she could no longer be a slave. I enjoyed watching such a relationship presented in the play.
How on earth open is the open couple? What on earth is the balanced point between the husband and wife? And why are we feeling so painful and blind? This show from Vertebra Theater has raised these serious questions yet has weakened them through humorous and funny lines and performances. The audience laugh but are struck with thoughts afterwards, which is more powerful and thought-provoking than just throwing these questions out.
The play is about “freedom”, which means “resistance”; it is presented in a “free” ways, which means “challenge”；it gives both the actors and the audience “freedom”, which means it is interesting!