Ding Yiteng is a rising star in the world of Chinese theater. Born in Beijing in 1991, Ding has been praised by leading theater directors for his innovative and daring approach to the stage. He has been called “the pioneering young theater director of the new generation in contemporary China” for his efforts to fuse traditional Chinese opera techniques with modern theater.
Ding’s interest in theater began at an early age. He appeared in his first play, “Beauty and the Beast,” while in middle school. In college, he became passionate about performing and eventually formed his own drama troupe. Ding’s troupe adapted Jean Genet’s “The Maid,” which caught the attention of renowned theater director Eugenio Barba.
In 2014, Ding’s troupe staged “The Maid” at the 2nd Wuzhen Theatre Festival. Barba, the founder of the avant-garde theater group Odin Teatret in Denmark, was in attendance and invited Ding to study with the company in 2015. Ding became the first Chinese actor to study with the troupe in its 50-year history.
Ding’s experience with the Odin Teatret had a profound impact on his approach to theater. He was exposed to performances from Denmark, France, and the UK, which inspired him to create a new brand of theater in China.
After studying with the Odin Teatret, Ding began to reinterpret traditional Chinese dramas. In 2016, he made his directorial debut with an adaptation of the classic Yuan Dynasty tale “Dou E Yuan.” The play tells the story of Dou E, a woman who is wrongly convicted of murder by a corrupt court official. Ding starred as the lead character in the play.
Ding believes that Western audiences are interested in contemporary Chinese ideas and are growing tired of traditional performances like kung fu and Chinese opera. He has made it his mission to bring these contemporary ideas to the stage.
Ding’s innovative approach to theater has earned him acclaim from leading theater directors in China and abroad. Meng Jinghui, a renowned Chinese theater director, has praised Ding’s acting performances. Barba has also lauded Ding’s work, saying that he has “great talent and potential.”
Ding’s goal is to create a new form of theater that is uniquely Chinese but also speaks to a global audience. He believes that by fusing traditional Chinese techniques with modern theater, he can create something new and exciting.
Despite his success, Ding remains humble and focused on his craft. He continues to experiment with new ideas and techniques, always striving to push the boundaries of what is possible on the stage.
In the future, Ding hopes to continue to innovate and create new works that challenge audiences and push the boundaries of Chinese theater. He is committed to exploring the intersection of traditional Chinese techniques and contemporary ideas, believing that this is where the future of Chinese theater lies.
Ding’s dedication to his craft and innovative approach to theater have made him a rising star in the world of Chinese theater. His ability to fuse traditional Chinese techniques with contemporary ideas has earned him praise from leading theater directors around the world. As he continues to push the boundaries of what is possible on the stage, Ding is poised to become one of the most important theater directors of his generation.
Ding’s latest piece, “I Did Not Kill My Husband,” is based on the work by Chinese novelist Liu Zhenyun. The play centers on Li Xuelian, a woman from rural China who spends over 20 years earning back society’s respect after her former husband tarnishes her reputation. The stage adaptation integrates modern elements with traditional performing arts, including somersaults and movements from Peking Opera, as well as playful rap and hip-hop. Ding calls this style “New Codification,” a new method of theater acting that combines Western and Chinese techniques.
In 2021, Ding reimagined Oscar Wilde’s classic novel, “The Picture of Dorian Grey,” for the 8th Wuzhen Theatre Festival. His version of the tale, entitled “Reflection,” follows a kind-hearted fisherman who has been bullied by a local thug and ignored by the other villagers. Although the story is a Western classic, Ding believes that the emotions conveyed in the play are universal, including love, desire, and creativity.
Ding draws inspiration for his works from a variety of sources, including art museums, where he visits weekly to study works by Van Gogh, Picasso, Dali, and various world civilizations. Now that he has successfully transitioned from acting to directing, he hopes to create more innovative spaces for budding thespians who are keen to push the creative envelope.
Overall, Ding Yiteng is a trailblazer in the Chinese theater scene, blending traditional and modern techniques to create a unique style of theater. His works are a testament to his talent, dedication, and willingness to push boundaries.