Page last updated at 11:24 GMT, Monday, 23 March 2009

China plans a Karl Marx musical

By Michael Bristow
BBC News, Beijing

Tombstone of Karl Marx
Karl Marx's Das Kapital was published in 1867

A Chinese director is planning to stage a musical based on the founding text of communism, Karl Marx's Das Kapital.

The plot will revolve around a group of office employees who find out they are being exploited by their boss.

China's communist leaders still praise Karl Marx, although they now shy away from his economic theories.

But those involved in the production say that Marx is still relevant today, particularly in a world gripped by an economic crisis.

Good timing

There will be singing and dancing in this stage version of the classic communist treatise, which is due to open in Shanghai next year.

"We will bring [Marx's] economic theories to life in a trendy, interesting and educational play, which will be fun to watch," director He Nian told the state-run China Daily.

Those behind the project say this approach will help people understand what many consider a dry, philosophical text.

But the producers promise they will not trivialise Marx's central message.

To make sure that does not happen, Zhang Jun, an economics professor at Shanghai's Fudan University, will act as an advisor on the production.

"It seems good timing to do the play when the global economic crisis has become a key phrase in people's lives," he said.

There are those who will wonder what relevance Marx has in modern China, whose leaders are more likely to talk about the free flow of capital rather than its corrosive affects.

And no place epitomises this approach more than the modern, capitalist city of Shanghai.

But director He said the money-driven city was a perfect place to stage the production, particularly now, with global capitalism coming under fire.

"Whenever I have dinner with friends who work in offices, they talk about budget cuts and employee layoffs," he said.

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