Monday, April 02, 2012

Theater Goers

As I walked towards home my attention was drawn to a big colorful sign at the edge of the bazaar entrance. In Uygur it read “He doesn’t have 2 wives?” The picture portrayed a crazy band of characters from a man with his head bandaged, two stylish women on either side, a few police offices, some strange bandits in black and other random participates. I read further on and realized they were selling tickets to a play that was being performed at the local theater. The tickets were only $5, so my roommate and I decided it would be an excellent way to have a listening class.

The story was hilarious. The main character had been in a car accident and had given one address to the hospital and another to the police. Both were his home, since he had two wives and two places of residence. As the police start to investigate the accident, the lead character was forced to pile lie upon lie so that his marital status would not discovered. We followed a lot of the story, but all the stretching of the truth and fibbing to the offices was meant to be confusing, even for native speakers. We did get really lost at the end when the bandits/mafia guys showed up stuttering and waving around guns, I am not really sure how they fit into the story. The staging was amazingly creative, with only one living room set up center stage, they wove the story in such a way that you were never confused which wives house they were in at the time.

Another thing about the performance that caught our attention was the one character who scripted in such a way as to come off very stereotypically homosexual. They had him dressed in a flaming pink shirt, tight pants, he spoke in a high pitched voice and was constantly waving his hands around in over dramatized fashion. This very modern and public display seemed miles removed for our trip to the village just weeks ago. In a culture where at least on the surface the aim is often to be viewed as a more spiritual or pious follower of Islam, this blatant display seemed abnormal to us. In fact there was a very traditional couple sitting just a row in front of us, after a number of rather subtle sexual references they jumped up from their seats and left. The rest of the audience continued to roar with laughter as the main character tangled himself in his web of deceit.

The look at modern urban Uyghur Youth culture, the excellent language practice, and the amount my roommate and I felt we were part of the shared life of those around us won us over. Our workmates, taxi drives and teachers all had all either seen the play or knew it was showing. We were able to reference current humor and happens. We have decided from now on we are theater goes, and already have tickets for our next outing.

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