Night Shift

old poster


Premiere: 16, 17 September 2014 at Beijing Fringe festival
Rerun: October 2014, Gulou West Theatre (Beijing); April 2015, Penghao Theatre (Beijing); May 2015, Norwegian Literary Festival (Lilehammer); May 2015, House of Drama (Oslo); November 2015, Guangzhou Dramatic Art Center; November 2015, Shanghai Dramatic Art Center.

Script: Marco D. Vitanza
Director: Liu Zheng
Director’s assitant: Zhao Danruo
Production assistant: Jennifer Zhang Cui
Sound Design: Anyal
Light design: Inger Johanne Byhring
Light technician: Su Peng
 Zhang Qiong
Photos: Øystein Nordås, Caroline Stroemhylden

Performers: Zhang Zhuokai, Wang Mingchao, Huang Yuexing

Executive Producer: Fabrizio Massini
Producer: Liu Zheng, Inger Buresund

Commissioned by: Ibsen International
Produced by: “Mi” Theatre Company and Ibsen International

Thanks to Su Qianyue, Deng Wen, Wang Yuanqing, Hao Rui, Wang Hailin, Yu Yanan, Li Xinyu

This play is part of “New Text, New Stage I”. It has been developed through two script-development workshops (N.T.N.S1 N.T.N.S2) and one workshop focused on direction (N.T.N.S3)


 Thomas, Lenny and Frank are working at the lifeboat station by The River Thames in London. They are doing the night shift. Mostly they are just waiting, but at any time, they can be called out to save the lives of people who fall into the river. These are men who are used to pick up dead corpses with swollen skin and shrimps in their mouths. What keeps them going is their  idealism, the noble cause of saving lives. But then, most people who fall into the river are suicide jumpers. This makes the three men question their undertaking. Why should they save the lives of those who don’t want to be saved?

As we move deeper into the night and the tide is shifting, the story of personal trauma is Revealed: Frank’s mother once attempted to commit suicide by jumping from one of the bridges, perhaps to test the love of his son. But this time the three men were too late. How could Frank fail to save the one who is most dear to him? And why did his mother want to commit suicide in such a way? The story of a troubled relationship between mother and son is slowly unveiled, and a deep sense of guilt comes creeping.

Throughout the play, the three men start to blur into each other, and it becomes unclear if it really was the mother of Frank, Lenny or Thomas who fell into the river. They seem to share the same destiny, and ultimately they are perhaps three different versions of the same character.

The personal drama bleeds into the vast river just outside the life boat station, with its history of glory and development, death and suicides. In face of the immensity of The River Thames, the three strong men shrink into impotent and helpless men. In the end, there is no way of fighting death. And there is no way of comprehending it. The river is just too strong.  –    M. D. Vitanza

About the Director


Dancer, coreographer, director, Liu Zheng received his first training in the military dance troupes (traditional Chinese dance) between 2000 and 2005. In 2006 he started his solo career and continued his training in modern dance, working with some of the major modern  dance companies in China including Beijing Modern Dance Company.

Thanks to his versatility and strong scenic presence, since 2008 Liu has been cast for numerous theatre productions and contemporary art performances, most noticeably his long-term collaboration with Fa%