Tian Gebing: Director, Founder and Artistic Director of Paper Tiger Theatre Studio

12 September 2017

Around 40 young festival directors from all over the world are about to take part in the Atelier for Young Festival and Cultural Managers in Shanghai. For them, it is the opportunity to exchange with experienced presenters. One of them is Tian Gebing, Director, Founder and Artistic Director of Paper Tiger Theatre Studio.

Paper Tiger Theatre Studio is an independent theatre collective initiated by Tian Gebing in 1997. Collaborating with dancers, artists and people from various disciplines, Paper Tiger commits itself to raise an independent voice to the ecology of theatre in contemporary China. Undermining reality with a humorous and brutally absurd manner, Paper Tiger, acting as a spoiler, constantly shatters the sweet fantasy which conceals the cruelty of current social reality. It does not only deconstruct everyday life into theatrical creations, but also converts theatre performance into a threshold to re-enter these real living scenes. In this way daily social life and theatrical life on stage are elevated to a more profound and organic level so as to set both theatre and spectators free from their conventional constrains. These powerful revelations and theatrical reconstructions are filled with humour and gravity.

In its early years Paper Tiger examined different ways of creation through combining visual arts and theatrical presence; social performativity and theatrical performance, questioning, challenging and oscillating the traditional theatrical binary and constrains imposed by dominant ideologies. Through experiments and practices a distinct ‘Heterotopian’ style of theatrical aesthetics has emerged itself. Beijing Blue (1997), The Killer Is Not Cool & High Art (1998), and later works Cool (2006), Reading (2010) marked the development of Paper Tiger’s aesthetics. These productions have toured in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo, Berlin, Munich, Zurich, Amsterdam…etc. and major art festivals.

In 2010, Paper Tiger expanded its focus to multi-cultural and interdisciplinary research theatre. From 2009 to 2011, Tian and dancer Wang Yanan created the ‘Misreading Trilogy’ at Monty Theatre, Antwerp. From 2012 to 2015, Paper tiger developed a large-scale research theatre project on the concept of ‘the Masses’ in collaboration with Münchner Kammerspiele Germany and Goethe Institut. Its theatrical presentation, Totally Happy was premiered in Münchner Kammerspiele on October 2nd of 2014. In May 2016 Tian collaborated with Stary Teatr in Krakow as the first Chinese director ever commissioned by a Polish national theatre. With Paper Tiger dancers and the actors from Stary Teatr he created his latest piece the Decalogue. In June 2017 a new chapter of Paper Tiger’s inter-cultural theatre exploration 500 Meters: Kafka, the Great Wall or the Image from an Unreal World will take its premiere in Hamburg in ‘Theater der Welt’.

Renowned mentors from all over the world will guide the participants throughout the seven days of the Atelier Shanghai 2017 under the coordination of Hugo de Greef (Atelier Coordinator, former EFA Secretary General, Director European Capital of Culture Bruges 2002m Co-Founder Kaaitheater Brussels – Belgium): Robin Archer, (Artistic Director The Light in Winter Melbourne – Australia), Mark Ball, (Associate Artistic Director of Manchester International Festival, UK), Bernard Faivre d’Arcier, (President Lyon Biennal -  France), Nele Hertling, (Member Strategy Group “A Soul for Europe”, Former Vice-President of the Academy of Arts Berlin, Former Director Hebbel-Theater Berlin – Germany), Nick Rongjun YU (chief director of ACT Shanghai International Theatre Festival, the director of Shanghai International Comedy Festival - China), Ismail Mahomed (Chief Executive Officer of the Market Theatre Foundation – South Africa), Catherine Wang (President of the Centre for China Shanghai International Arts Festival – China), Ophelia Huang (Head of International Shanghai Dramatic Arts Center – China), Lin Hongming (Professor and Dean of the Art Management Department of Shanghai Conservatory of Music – China), Tian Gebing (Director, Founder and Artistic Director of Paper Tiger Theatre Studio – China)

More information about the Atelier Shanghai 2017 can be found on the Atelier website.

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