In the over-200-year history of the Qing Dynasty of China, there was an aristocratic family of architecture that created the Imperial Palace, the Yuanmingyuan Imperial Garden, the Summer Palace…The Lei family was a family of craftsmen. From September 29th to October 6th, NCPA drama commission The Lei Family, the Royal Architects will be revived a fourth time and take the audience back to one hundred years ago to feel the Lei family’s unfailing spirit and upright character, as well as the social system and lofty integrity peculiar to the old Beijing.
The archetype of The LEI Family, the Royal Architects
The late Qing Dynasty saw a social upheaval and mass impoverishment. The drama The Lei Family, the Royal Architects, produced in this context, tells a story about LEI Siqi (the father) and LEI Tingchang (the son) rebuilding the Yuanmingyuan Imperial Garden destroyed by the Anglo-French Allied Force under an imperial edict. They are actively involved in the reconstruction work with the aim of fulfilling their long-cherished wish to renovate this grand work built by their ancestors so as to bring honour to the family. However, the people, who have just suffered from an aggression, cannot afford to pay the excessive taxes and levies extorted. LEI Tingchang sees with his own eyes that his lover, whose father has been arrested, is being driven desperate and intending to sell herself to save her father, the government officials are colluding with businessmen to embezzle the reconstruction funds, and all bureaucrats are shielding each other to act unjustly…Finally, LEI Tingchang and his father realize that their long-cherished wish to rebuild the three hills and five gardens is no longer a glory but a calamity for the Qing Dynasty, which is on the brink of collapse, and for the people, who are suffering various hardships. So, they have to give up their wish and hope that they will be able to rebuild the three hills and five gardens to restore the gardens of the Beijing City when the country becomes prosperous again. In the drama, The LEI family’s brilliant craftsmanship, moral integrity and aggressive artisan spirit are the quintessence that highlights the story; the magnificent palaces and temples, the deserted Yuanmingyuan Imperial Garden, the marketplace where small tradesmen and porters gather, the wharf where thousands of sailing boats pass…every historic building in Beijing in the late Qing Dynasty comes into view realistically on the exquisite and spectacular stage.
From left to right: LEI Siqi, LEI Tingchang in group A and LEI Tingchang in group B
In the upcoming performance, the head of the LEI family “LEI Siqi” will be played by WANG Jishi, a Chinese first-class actor of China, a winner of the Golden Lion Award for drama, and the director of Performer Troupe of Tianjin People’s Art Theatre. The protagonist “LEI Tingchang” will be played by members of NCPA Drama Ensemble. The actor ZHAO Ling, who gave an excellent performance in NCPA productions Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Jane Eyre and King Lear, will play honest, kind, resolute and strong-willed “LEI Tingchang” in Group A. The actor DONG Wenliang will play “LEI Tingchang” in Group B. When talking about his understanding of the character “LEI Tingchang”, DONG Wenliang expressed his personal views, “LEI Tingchang is first and foremost a civil craftsman, who is hard-working, kind and brave; then he is a national craftsman, who takes it as his own duty to build the country, especially to make the country prosperous; at last he is one of the great Chinese people, who never surrender to any difficulties or hardships!”
In addition, the actress WANG Wenjie, who acted well in the third round performance before, will play the female lead Guizhi’er, LEI Tingchang’s lover, an impoverished girl who faces up to everything. The actress YANG Qi will play “Empress Dowager Cixi”, a controversial female character who has supreme power.