Get ready for an exclusive sneak peek into the mesmerizing world of The Mongol Khan as we sit down with the show’s director, Hero Baatar. This eagerly anticipated production is set to grace the London Coliseum this November for a strictly limited season. With a massive ensemble of more than 70 performers and a history-inspired storyline, “The Mongol Khan” promises to be a theatrical masterpiece that has already captivated audiences in Ulaanbaatar for over a year.
Hero Baatar, you’re bringing this spectacular production, The Mongol Khan, to the London Coliseum? What do you make of the theatre as a performance space?
It feels very special because this is the home of Shakespeare and I feel the heart centre of the theatre world kind of lies here energetically. It’s special not just because of the actual physical space which is lovely, but also because it creates a space historically, culturally and communication-wise as well.
Now this is an audacious show. You have 70 performers on stage and many more people making the show work. Do you ever feel like a general in charge of a small army yourself?
It takes hundreds of people’s hard work and dedication to make The Mongol Khan happen. Sometimes it feels like it’s like composing a piece of music. Sometimes you have to narrow down on a single line of melody, other times the production has to be super loud! It reminds me of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody which was originally titled ‘Mongolian Rhapsody’! When you collect all of the elements of our show together it feels like a real ‘Mongolian Rhapsody’!
So it goes beyond existing in the space of the Colosseum, it’s not a matter of just how many people are dancing on the stage, it is actually a beautiful cultural attack. Mongolians have a history tracing back to 2000-3000 thousand years ago, like many of the grand empires in Central Asia. Later we’ve been influenced by Russia, Chinese empires, and some Tibetan religious influences. So it has been quite difficult for us to preserve our cultural identity. It’s in the last 200 years, for the very first time, that Mongolians are preserving their own identity and culturally showcasing it to the rest of the world.
Outside of Mongolia, in the UK, people may come with pre-conceptions of Mongolia and the word ‘Khan’, maybe plucked from storybooks when they were children. What enlightenment are you bringing to London audiences?
So Khan means King. In this perspective, we are bringing the philosophy of what it takes to be a King with this play. In one word, it’s a play about love. This doesn’t necessarily need to be limited to romantic love. It is a love towards your family, love towards your friends also love towards your country and the nation as well. In our play, for one to be a true leader, one has to be able to sacrifice their own needs and interests for the good of the people. The Mongol Khan is seeking to remind people of what it truly takes to be a King: a leader.
If we look at Shakespeare, he wasn’t always the most faithful to historical truth. Talking of my own Scottish culture, Macbeth was a good King made into a villain for dramatic purposes by the Bard. Do you feel the same tensions between your history, and making good theatre?
In terms of the plot, The Mongol Khan combines different mythologies and tales of Mongolian Khans throughout different eras. It also combines different problems they faced. So it’s more like a fictional tale, overall.
In terms of the time where it’s set, it’s around the Hunnic Empire, which dates back around 2000 years ago. This is one of the empires which has the majority of archaeological findings. Therefore you could have a much better imagination of how people and the Empire and nation might have looked like around that time.
In my mind art should be free. You should not really limit art to an exact replication of history. The best art is 4+4 = 10!
Production shots from The Mongol Khan
So if artistic truth is more important than fact, what truths about Mongolia, its people, and beyond will The Mongol Khan offer to its audiences?
When we open, we would like to showcase the culture which is very close to Mother Nature. So when people see all these beautiful cultural elements of the show, I would like them to travel back in time to our early civilizations and ancient culture. At the end of the day, when we go back, humanity shares a similar culture dating back to pre-history.
Everyone can feel their own ancient culture in their blood.
So in ancient history, we find common ground between us all. Is this the bridge you are building with The Mongol Khan to celebrate 60 years of Anglo-Mongolian relations and cultural exchange?
Indeed this play is becoming an important cultural bridge between our country and others right now. The United Kingdom was the very first Western country to accept Mongolian independence. So therefore I’m really grateful and appreciative towards the UK and British people as well.
Of course, right now the United Kingdom is opening their own market commercially for our theatre productions. In the past, Mongolian shows always used to go to different countries through cultural exchange and inter-governmental programmes.
The Mongol Khan is the very first time that we are actually bringing a show commercially, you know, and this is a huge cultural investment. I would like to extend my love towards the British people!
Also, it is creating a new destination because culture is always the first step before opening gates for other markets as well. Just to see this show, lots of people from Mongolia, and people from other countries will come to London. Mongolian embassies are working really hard to promote this, not just the show, but to encourage Mongolians to explore London. That’s going to create many more economic and business opportunities I hope!
Production shots from The Mongol Khan
As our time comes to an end, let’s return to the show. Do you have any favourite sequences or moments in The Mongol Khan which make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up?
When 100 performers are on stage dancing, breathing and channelling emotions, then it is impossible not to feel it! Therefore this play is very alive! Every single time that I watch the play, I get different emotions, and new ideas, depending on what the performers are giving!
Recently we went to Inner Mongolia to play the show. Now, our show is banned in China! There is one part which probably provoked Chinese people a little bit! It was my favourite moment of the play. It’s at the end end of the play when the Khan declares, ‘Let the world hear, and fear, that the Hunnic Empire is on the rise!’ It felt like a very powerful political statement!
I just remembered because you asked, certain parties asked for the line to be removed because it seemed provocative. But when you think about the world 2000 years ago or more, the geopolitical borders are so different from now. During that time the Hunnic Empire was strongly Western, including parts of what is now Hungary, Kazakhstan, and Turkey. Russia was part of the Central Asian Empire. So it’s difficult for just one nation to claim to claim ownership.
The Mongol Khan – Show details
- 1st Preview: Friday, November 17th at 7:00 PM
- Saturday, November 18th at 7:00 PM
- Press / Gala Night: Monday, November 20th at 7:00 PM
- Wednesday, November 22nd at 7:00 PM
- Thursday, November 23rd at 7:00 PM
- Friday, November 24th at 7:00 PM
- Saturday, November 25th at 2:00 PM & 7:00 PM
- Sunday, November 26th at 2:00 PM
- Wednesday, November 29th at 7:00 PM
- Thursday, November 30th at 7:00 PM
- Friday, December 1st at 7:00 PM
- Saturday, December 2nd at 2:00 PM & 7:00 PM
Age Guidance: Suitable for ages 6 +
- 1st Preview (Friday, November 17th): All seats priced at £30
- Other Performances: Tickets range from £15 to £110
- Tickets are available at the Box Office by calling 020 7845 9300.
- Online ticket purchases can be made at www.londoncoliseum.org or in person at the venue.