500 Meters: Kafka, the Great Wall or Images from the Unreal World and Daily Heroism


Paper Tiger Theater Studio

Directed by Tian Gebing

Concept by Tian Gebing and Christoph Lepschy

Coproducers Thalia Theater Hamburg

                  Festival Theater der Welt

                  Goethe Institut – International Coproduction Fund

                  Stary Teatr Krakow

With support from Goethe Institut China

                         Shenzhen Ming Cultural Communication Co. Ltd

                         Ming Contemporary Art Museum Shanghai

                         Mingyuan Group

                         Adam Mickiewicz Institute


26th Oct. 2018, 21:30

27th Oct. 2018, 21:30

WHERE: Exhibition Hall 4

Duration: 120 minutes (without intermission)

20 minutes before the performance ,there will be a performance guide at the performance venue ,and the audience can see it arriving early.

Performed in Chinese/German/Polish/Spanish/English, with Chinese and English surtitles.


500 Meters is not a narrative story. Rather it takes some fragmentary approaches to the narrative, which are seamlessly connected to one another. One could recall the works of Tadeusz Kantor, or even more, of filmmakers such as Luis Buñuel or René Clair, as its precursors—precursors in the sense of making an analogy rather than having some influence.

                                    ― Thomas Rothschild, Nachtkritik

Having given up banner-like messages, director Tian Gebing opened a broad field of associations which critically examines the political, economic and cultural aspects, all at the same time, in contemporary China. Also examined are those countries - inevitable in the global age - that are in dialogue with China or (involuntarily) affected by the societal consequences in the Middle Empire. The interaction between the representatives of different countries was paradigmatically demonstrated by the tight connection of the actors' bodies. Hybrid collective identities, both interpretations suggested, are the standard in the age of globalisation.

― Julia Lang, Theater der Welt Blog

About the work

In Kafka’s Beim Bau der Chinesischen Mauer, written in 1917, he describes a building project that is both ambiguous and visible. The project is designed by a massive empire and built collectively by the Chinese people. It is not the work of an individual but a collective action that penetrates space and time.

Kafka depicts it as “means of unification of our people” (“Einigungsmittel unseres Volkes”), as well as a signifier of the contemporary human’s endless action of reconstructing the world, in which the individual remains deeply confused.

How are we to define the value of such enormous architecture? How are such endless processes endured?

A transcultural theatre performance that departs from Kafka’s writing, it invites for an evening, where the thousands-year-old history of China and its globalised present time are mirroring each other, as well as the European and the Chinese phantasies of one another.

This project was commissioned by Festival Theater der Welt in 2017, and premiered at Thalia Theater in Hamburg.

About the director

Tian Gebing

Engaged in the theatre experiments in the late 1980s.

Tian founded Paper Tiger Theater Studio in 1997. He has initiated and curated a number of art projects and events.

Paper Tiger is also a theatre group that has projected international influence since over a decade.


Concept: Tian Gebing, Christoph Lepschy

Director: Tian Gebing

Dramaturgy: Christoph Lepschy

Stage Design: Eva Veronica Born

Music: Piotr KUREK

Choreography/Costume Design: Wang Yanan

Director Assistance: Liu Chao, Peng Yi’ou

Light Design: Guo Shentong

Audio: Wei Qiong

Surtitles: Zhou Congshan

Cast: Lei Yan, Wang Yanan, Liu Xiangjie, Lian Guodong, Liu Chao, Li Bin, Xu Yiming,

Peng Yi’ou, Syzmon Czacki, Manel Salas Palau, Juliane Elting

Text Translation: Peng Yi’ou, Zhou Congshan, Liu Chao, Irmgard Enzinger

Rehearsal Interpretation: Liu Chao, Peng Yi‘ou

Graphic Design: Chen Xiongwei, Peng Yi’ou

Graphic Design Inspired by: Shi Jianmin

Documentation: Hua Dong, Qi Rui, Zhi Hao, Krafft Angerer

Coproduction: Thalia Theater Hamburg

                       Festival Theater der Welt

                       Goethe Institut – International Coproduction Fund

                       Stary Teatr Krakow

With support from Goethe Institut China

                             Shenzhen Ming Cultural Communication Co. Ltd

                             Ming Contemporary Art Museum Shanghai

                             Mingyuan Group

                             Adam Mickiewicz Institute

About Paper Tiger Theater Studio

Founded in 1997, Paper Tiger Theater Studio is a working collective of artists with different backgrounds.

Over the past 20 years, a number of works and projects have been created.

Paper Tiger works are seen in many international cities and on major European stages.

The group pioneered the experiments of mixing visual art, social performance and the live scene in theatre, so as to exercise Paper Tiger’s Hetereotopian theatre aesthetics.

Since 2010, the group has shifted its focus to intercultural research theatre. Notable works in this period include The Antwerp Trilogy (2010/2011 Antwerp), Iron Horse (2014 Hong Kong Art Festival), Totally Happy (2014 Munich Kammerspiele), Dekalog (2016 Stary Teatr Krakow) and 500 Meters: Kafka, the Great Wall or Images from the Unreal World and Daily Heroism (2017 Thalia Theater Hamburg/Festival Theater der Welt).


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