“RHINOCEROS in Love” has been a standout in Chinese theaters. It was performed 270 times and viewed by 200,000 over the past 10 years. This does not include the number of college students who performed and watched the drama at schools. Almost every school troupe in Beijing has performed the play. In a country where most people are still unfamiliar with dramas, this is a remarkable achievement.
“The story is a combination of love, persistent pursuit and literary beauty. It is crazy, rebellious, but not to the extreme,” commented director Meng Jinghui.
“Rhinoceros in Love” tells the story of desperate love. Rhinoceros caretaker, Ma Lu, and his secret love, Mingming, share an intimate encounter, but the girl leaves him the next day. To win Mingming’s heart, Ma has done all he could, but is overwhelmed by a deep desperation. To help him, salesman Toothbrush finds two young girls, Honghong and Lili, to pretend to be Ma’s admirers in an attempt to make Mingming jealous. Unfortunately, Ma’s madness results in his love broker’s theory becoming a complete failure. At a night, Ma, as crazy and stubborn as a rhinoceros, kidnaps Mingming in the name of love.
Despite early criticism by drama critics, the drama was an immediate success when it was launched in 1999 and since dubbed “The Bible of Love for Youngsters” in China.
Meng said the idea of creating the “Rhinoceros in Love” in 1999 was to reflect people’s anxiety and expectation at the end of a century.
“It’s not only a love story. It has pure love, but it’s more of a story about belief and about persisting with one’s dream,” he said.
The fourth version of “Rhinoceros in Love,” starring Zhang Nianhua and Qi Xi, will be staged in Shenzhen in April. Compared with the previous three versions, the new version is less dramatic and stronger in visual impact.
Meng said the latest version of “Rhinoceros in Love” has the characteristics of today. “Society has changed. But the strong feelings of people are like a fire that never extinguishes,” he said.
The fourth edition of “Rhinoceros in Love” was such a hit that tickets for the Valentine’s Day show, staged at the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing, were sold out two weeks in advance.
Meng said all the actors and actresses in the fourth edition of “Rhinoceros in Love” were born in the 1980s. “I want to see how they understand the script, and how they understand belief,” said Meng.
“Rhinoceros in Love” is on a national tour of 20 cities. Meng hopes the play will inspire a love of drama.
“I did not do it for myself. I hope to win acknowledgement for drama and respect for other drama producers. I feel I’m a good person to do that,” said Meng.