Adapted from an American drama of the same title, Taking Leave is making its debut at the National Theatre of China from June 27 to July 7.
Directed by Wang Xiaoying, Taking Leave explores the life of prestigious drama actor Elliot Brian in his later years and how he struggle to differentiate between stage life and real life as his Alzheimer’s disease worsened.
Known for his excellent performance of King Lear, Elliot had a glorious early life but miserable and desolate twilight.
“I first saw the drama in Denver 17 years ago and was impressed by the tension that underlies the tranquil stage setting,” Wang said.
Unlike the original version, where Elliot is a Shakespearean actor, Wang limits his career to the role of King Lear.
“It was inspired by my experience with the actor Yu Shizhi. He achieved a huge fame but was left with nothing but embarrassment and pity when his forgetfulness worsened. Including his life story in Taking Leave add character to the leading role,” Wang said.
Elliot’s life is juxtaposed with King Lear’s. With the onset of Alzheimer disease, his relationships with his three daughters become another clue throughout the drama.
“Taking Leave not only focuses on the lives of those with Alzheimer’s disease but brings subtle and complicated family ties to stage,” Wang said.