The old Peking’s operatic dreams, the spoony’s heartbroken elegy

NCPA June/02/2017
On the evening of June 1st, the 7th round of NCPA drama Returning Home on a Snowy Night came on stage, preluding NCPA International Theatre Festival 2017. This year marks 100th anniversary of playwright WU Zuguang’s birth and the 110th anniversary of Chinese drama’s birth. In memory of this drama master, the creative team including Chinese director REN Ming and actors such as ZHANG Qiuge, YU Shaoqun, CHENG Lisha and LI Lin gathered together on the NCPA stage, presenting joys and sorrows of love stories happening in the Republic of China (1912-1949). This drama will be performed continually till June 11th.

WEI Liansheng is a Peking Opera actor in this drama
Photo by GAO Shang

On the evening, Peking Opera actor WEI Liansheng acted by young actor YU Shaoqun stepped onto the stage. There was a striking contrast between WEI’s brilliant and glorious appearance on the stage in the beginning and his abjectness later. As a highlight of this drama, elements of Chinese Opera not only added operatic mien to the story, but also formed a contrast with the realistic lives of the characters. The story between WEI Liansheng and Yuchun is more of a sad melody in the Republic of China. Graceful and intelligent Yuchun is acted by CHENG Lisha, who performed delicately Yuchun’s contradictory life—living a life of “caged peacock” but hoping for freedom. Under this circumstance, upon acquaintance, Yuchun and WEI Liansheng have a lot of common feelings with each other and fall in love. With the torture of self-value, their love sublimates to helplessness and desolateness of uncontrollable individual fate under the background of the Era.

ZHANG Qiuge played SU Hongji, a chief justice making his fortune from opium smuggling in the drama
Photo by GAO Shang

ZHANG Qiuge, a Chinese first-class actor of National Theatre of China and two-time winner of “Chinese Plum Award”, played the “leading role of villain” SU Hongji who is a chief justice making his fortune from opium smuggling in the drama. ZHANG Qiuge’s flexible performance perfectly presented this complicated and cunning ambitious person in front of audience. DONG Wenliang and WANG Haowei from NCPA Drama Ensemble will act as WANG Xingui and XU Fucheng respectively in the following session. The two characters are around SU Hongji with one villain good at observing people ’s mood and the other hypocritical official. The three persons’ complicity leads to the tragic love story of WEI Liansheng and Yuchun. The stage setting in the evening tried to restore the Beiping (Beijing's old term) style in the Republic of China. In the script, Mr. WU Zuguang gave detailed suggestions about the stage. On the basis of realism, the script presents the feeling and operatic taste of the onetime capital poetically. In the scene of SU Hongji’s yard, the audience could see the contrast between the bustling and desolation when guests departed after drinking, while behind the yard is the luxury and magnificence of the dramatic life. The scene of WEI Liansheng’s home highlights the flavour of ordinary alleys in the old Peking.

The scene of WEI Liansheng’s home highlights the flavour of ordinary alleys in the old Peking.
Photo by GAO Shang

Returning Home on a Snowy Night also preluded the “Oriental Charm” Session of 2017 NCPA International Theatre Festival. From June 22nd to June 29th, together with the SCOT troupe, the famous drama master Tadashi Suzuki will bring two famous Greek tragedies: The Trojan Women and Dionysus. Besides, from June 21st to July 8th, Staatstheater Nürnberg and Deutsches TheaterBerlin will bring three German dramas including Terror, The 39 Steps and The Visit, opening the wonderful journey of “Western Essence” Session of this International Theatre Festival.
RELATED PERFORMANCE

NCPA Drama Returning Home on a Snowy Night

NCPA Drama Returning Home on a Snowy Night

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