[OPE] Das Kapital: The Musical

From: <glevy@pratt.edu>
Date: Thu Aug 26 2010 - 16:28:57 EDT


Das Kapital relaunched as musical manifesto for capital-obsessed

English.news.cn <http://english.news.cn/>
2010-08-24 17:08:03

SHANGHAI, Aug. 24 (Xinhua) -- When Karl Marx famously said
"History repeats
itself, first as tragedy, second as
farce," he might well have added "...or
as a

One can only guess at what the great political
and economic philosopher
might have thought of his best-known work,
Das Kapital, distilled into a
song and dance production -- but
Shanghai audiences have been flocking to
see it since it opened last

Broadway musical elements have been adopted in this
black humor story, which
involves the audience in a critique of
modern capitalism and the social
realities of 21st Century China.

"Confronting current social realities, how to reinterpret
Marx's masterpiece
became the mainspring for producing the stage
play," says He Nian, who
directs the Shanghai Dramatic Arts
Center production at the Shanghai
Majestic Theater.

While it may have borrowed the most famous title penned by Marx
He says the performance taps into and reflects a
renewed interest in the

"Marx's 'Das Kapital'
has run out of copies in some Western countries since
the financial
crisis in 2008, and a Japanese cartoon version of 'Das
Kapital' has
also became a best-seller again," says the 30-year-old

High housing prices, second generations of the
rich, and the financial
crisis are the modern phenomena interpreted
according to the theories of
Marxist economics.

production tells a story of an actor who plans to raise 10 million yuan

(1.47 million U.S. dollars) to invest in a stage play. However, it
into a capital operation after China's most successful real
estate tycoon
and most popular comedian join in.

actor becomes the performance company's boss and the company is soon
listed on the Nasdaq exchange. Standard and Poor even creates an
index" for it -- the more applause the higher
the share price.

The index shows enthusiastic applause for the
play as each member of the
audience becomes a shareholder in the
play with his or her ticket.

Workers, however, respond in
different ways after they discover they have
been exploited by their
boss and discover the theory of "surplus value," the
of the product compared to the value of their labor.

Some are
willing to be exploited, since they believe the tougher their boss,
the more they are valued. Some negotiate with the boss, but the risk of

unemployment and high housing loans make them compromise.

Eventually "Das Kapital" has no stage and no actors or
actresses in the
theater, but only the thunder of applause from the
audience, the
shareholders of the play within a play. The share
price breaks its own
record time and time again until a financial
crisis approaches.

The definition of "capital" and
its true value are the theme of the play.

"China cannot
develop without capital. Capital is neither good nor bad,
angel nor devil," says Yu Rongjun, the writer.

Yang Shaolin, general manager of the Shanghai Dramatic Arts Center
and production designer, believes that profit-driven capital needs to be

regulated, controlled and supervised.

Yang claims that
financial regulations and surplus value allocations become
for public debate after the performance.

Yang says neither the
government nor the public have challenged the
production and he is
confident that tickets will continue to sell well.

The first
volume of Marx's master work was published in 1867, and the other
two volumes were released in 1885 and 1894.

Marx also
famously said that art is "the immortal movement of its time,"
this production runs until Aug. 29.
Editor: Zhang Xiang

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Received on Thu Aug 26 16:31:02 2010

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