C'est du chinois*


* French expression, meaning “it's all Greek to me” (literally "it's Chinese"), a phrase indicating that something is impossible to understand. The equivalent of this idiom in Mandarin is (literally “sounds like Mars language”).

On stage: 5 Chinese citizens, determined to open up to the public. The only language they speak is Mandarin, but they are convinced this should not stand in the way of an fruitful exchange with the audience.

Using the possibilities of theatrical representation, they teach us basic oral comprehension of the Mandarin language, just enough to understand the gradually unfolding narrative: that of a family under pressure, eager to leave old troubles behind and start a new life in a strange country.

In essence C’est du chinois is about communication. Communication that is impossible, but through the common effort of players and spectators working together, it comes into being. Starting at zero, they create something together - the possibility of a personal encounter, of an intimate face-to-face meeting.

C’est du chinois premiered in June 2010 at Alkantara Festival in Lisbon.




concept, text and directed by Edit Kaldor

assistant Yen Yitzu

language consultant Xi Zeng

performed by Nucheng Lu, Siping Yao, Aaron Chun Fai Wan, Lei Wang, Qifeng Shang

dramaturgical advice Zhana Ivanova, Nicola Unger

props and costumes Janneke Raaphorst

lights and technique Ingeborg Slaats

management Hans Mets, Corine Snijders

produced by Stichting Kata (Amsterdam) Productiehuis Rotterdam (Rotterdamse Schouwburg),

co-produced by Alkantara Festival (Lisbon), Kunstenfestivaldesarts (Brussels), Göteborgs Dans & Teater Festival (Sweden), Steirischer Herbst festival (Graz)

supported by the Performing Arts Fund NL, VSBfund, Amsterdam Fund for the Arts research, HUB - Theatre in Motion (Beijing), NXTSTP, with the support of the Culture Programme of the European Union

thanks to Mark Walraven, Esther Verhamme, Fenmei Hu, Mandy Xia, Frank Theys, Jacqueline Schoemaker, Andreas Bachmair, Effie Baert, Els Silvrants, Annemarie Montulet, Ivana, Xiang Wang, Lao Tao, Shi Xiaojuan, Pan Yong, Huang Wen, Mr.Yang, Peter Yang, Claude Pan

tour management Caravan Production (Brussels)


New York Times | A Crash Course in Mandarin, With No Books or Interpreters