Russian director Yury Yeremin attends a Beijing event to promote Same Time, Next Year, his latest collaboration with Chinese artists. [Photo by Jiang Dong/China Daily]
Speaking about how she took on the role, Jiang, who was born in Bengbu, Anhui province, and graduated from the Beijing Film Academy in 1992, says: "I read the script about 10 years ago and I loved it.
"It's more than physical attraction. It is like friends and family. During the decades-long relationship, the man and the woman share everything, though they meet just once a year. It is almost a lifelong relationship, which is touching."
The 47-year-old actress also says that although she has performed in films and TV dramas, she feels most drawn to the stage.
In 2004, Jiang acted in Lin Zhaohua's adaptation of Russian playwright Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard. In 2014, she played the lead in Taiwan director Stan Lai's rendition of Carol Rocamora's I Take Your Hand in Mine.
"I enjoy performing in theaters and touring different cities. It's really thrilling to perform in front of audiences who breathe with me and give me instant feedback. I feel more energy."
The play's producer Wang Keran says he was introduced to the script about 10 years ago by Taiwan actress Fang Fang.
The actress was then visiting Beijing to perform in Lai's play Light Years, which Wang had produced.
Wang says he invited Yeremin last year to direct a Chinese play, titled Love Letter, which toured the country in the first half of 2017.
He decided to work with the director again.
Yeremin is the recipient of the People's Artist of Russia, a top award for performance artists.
Yeremin says that one of the biggest challenges for both the actors and director is that the story involves just two people and their interactions happen in a room.
"The conflict is emotional and subtle, not physical and apparent. For example, they know that it is not appropriate to meet each other because they both have families. They love each other, but they have to help each other resolve marital problems."
Chinese actor Liu Jun, who plays George Peters, has also acted in many TV dramas and films.
Though he started out as a theater actor, he has been offstage for over a decade.
"I was very nervous when Jiang asked me to act with her because I have not done theater for a very long time," says Liu.
"I watch lots of plays, and I am drawn to theater. We have been rehearsing intensively for the past 20 days, and I feel alive and fresh."