The second season of “Actors, Please Take Your Place” has just wrapped up, and was definitely an interesting season, sparking a lot of conversation among netizens as well as delivering some memorable performances. If you are unfamiliar with the show, the format is like your standard survival show, 40 actors and actresses are invited to show off their acting skills performing different scenes selected from a variety of dramas.
The directors invited this season are Zhao Wei (Vicky Zhao, Hear Her), Guo Jingming (Eric Guo, Tiny Times), Chen Kaige (Farewell My Concubine), and Er Dongsheng (Derek Yee, One Night In Mongkok), who provide feedback on the actors’ performances. During the first half of the season, they rank the contestants, giving them either an S card, an A card, or a B card, and in the second half of the season, they use these cards to choose which actors they would like to work with for their own directed pieces.
What worked well:
More specifically, seeing the actors improve and have the chance to show off different skill sets and a different side of themselves. The cast of actors invited this season is a varied mix in age, experience, and popularity, ranging from Ding Chengxin (Teens In Times) who is only 18 years old to seasoned veterans like 43-year-old Huang Yi (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon).
Despite the wide range in skill and experience of the actors, there is very little drama between the actors themselves, instead, the show focuses on the ways that they help each other and lift each other up. This can spark up a lot of good chemistry between the actors as well, leading to some great performances. For the younger and rookie actors, in particular, this show feels like a great platform for learning and growth.
A performance to check out:
I Am Somebody, featuring Sun Qian and Zhang Haiyu
The Scenes (when it all comes together well)
If you are interested in seeing different interpretations of your favorite dramas, you will find this interesting. Most of the scenes performed on the show are taken from well-known dramas or films and adapted to be performed for the show. Particularly in the second half of the show when the directors are the ones directing each piece, you can really get a sense of each director’s style. Seeing different actors putting their own take on well-known roles is also interesting, and gives them an opportunity to try types of roles that they might not have had the chance to try before.
Some performances to check out:
Moonlight, featuring Ni Hongjie, Huang Mengying, Zhang Yijie
Dearest, featuring Myolie Wu
What could have been better:
Milking drama for views
Like most survival shows, there is always some kind of drama involved. It’s a way to spin views and get netizens talking about the show, however, the show goes a bit heavy-handed in this. If you are looking for some played up variety show drama, this could be the show for you.
By inviting large personalities or controversial figures, the show is automatically setting itself up to be a big talking point. From the beginning of the show, when Guo Jingming gave an S card (the highest-ranked card) to He Changxi (UNINE) despite his performance being harshly criticized by the other directors, it set the scene for the kind of director related drama that would follow the whole show. It is evident that directors and the show have their own biases which it doesn’t try to hide, however for a show that is about acting, it could do better to focus on the drama performed by the actors instead of forcing interpersonal conflict between directors and actors.
If the show is able to create fantastic performances it won’t need the added extra drama to be successful.
A performance to not check out:
The Untamed, featuring He Changxi and Zhang Yijie, causing the controversy mentioned above
What can be improved for the next season:
Something that finale host Zhang Dada touches upon in the final episode is that there is a lack of diversity in roles for older actors. In particular for the older women, throughout the show, most of the roles for them were relegated to being mothers.
It’s particularly noticeable in the finale, where various producers or casting directors are invited to the show to offer roles to some of the contestants, and the majority of the roles were offered to the young actors and actresses. It represents a lack of opportunity in the industry, leading to shows like this which become one of the few avenues for these actors who may want a chance to try different roles and work with well-known directors.
In the future, this show has the potential to explore and offer opportunities to older actors and actresses and prove that there is an interest from the general public in seeing older actors in a variety of interesting roles, rather than purely youth dramas driven by idols turned actors who carry some traffic.
If you are interested in watching the show, you can find the whole season on Tencent Video’s Youtube Channel.
Overall rating for the variety show: 3 out of 5.
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