In order to promote the national spirit and create fine cultural products, the NCPA and Guangzhou Dramatic Arts Centre co-produced drama commission LIN Zexu in 2019 to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the PRC.
LIN Zexu (1785-1850), a native of Houguan (now Fuzhou), Fujian province, was an outstanding Chinese politician, national hero and poet. Chinese President Xi Jinping has made an important statement on the spirit of LIN Zexu. He said, “We should carry forward LIN Zexu’s steadfast patriotism and unyielding dignity, and learn from his integrity as well as his pioneering and outward-looking spirit”. According to historical facts in which LIN Zexu destroyed opium, commanded in the Opium War, was dismissed on false charges and rose in spirit after reflection, the drama introduces the great man by focusing on the conflicts between him and other important roles such as his wife, Emperor Daoguang, WANG Ding, and Qishan.
The NCPA and Guangzhou Dramatic Arts Centre made careful planning. The creative team travelled to Humen, Yili, Beijing, Fuzhou and Pucheng, where LIN Zexu had worked and lived, to collect historical materials and interview relevant experts and scholars. The creative team and main cast are composed of some of the best artists in China, including playwright GUO Qihong, director WANG Xiaodi, stage designer JI Qiao, composer ZHAO Jiping, lighting designer XING Xin, costume designer CHEN Tongxun, multimedia designer HU Tianji and choreographer HUANG Doudou. The drama co-stars renowned actors PU Cunxin, XU Fan, HONG Tao, GUO Da and GUAN Dongtian. They will recreate the tumultuous but legendary years together with the NCPA Drama Ensemble and drama actors of Guangzhou Dramatic Arts Centre.
“A nation cannot rise without heroes, and a country cannot prosper without pioneers.” The purpose of recounting history and celebrating heroes is to remain true to our original aspirations and keep forging ahead. In this new era, we are closer than ever to the goal of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. We hope that through this production, we can look back with the audience to the beginning of the nation’s struggle in 1840, thus promoting patriotism and inspiring reflections on history.
Presenters & Producers: NCPA & Guangzhou Dramatic Arts Centre
Performers: NCPA Drama Ensemble & Guangzhou Dramatic Arts Centre Drama Artists
Executive Presenters: WANG Ning, XU Yonghong
Chef Planners: ZHANG Heping, WANG Ning
Artistic Director: XU Xiaozhong
General Producers: ZHAO Jiachen, LÜ Jie, LI Zhixiang, ZHAO Tiechun, ZHU Jing, WANG Cheng, GONG Jicheng, LIU Yumei, ZHU Xiaoyi
Executive Producers: ZHAO Tiechun, ZHU Hongbing
Playwright: GUO Qihong
Director: WANG Xiaodi
Set Designer: JI Qiao
Composer: ZHAO Jiping
Lighting Designer: XING Xin
Costume/Style Designer: CHEN Tongxun
Video Projection Designer: HU Tianji
Choreographer: HUANG Doudou
Sound Designer: WANG Hao
Props Designer: WANG Junwei
LIN Zexu: PU Cunxin
ZHENG Shuqing: XU Fan
Emperor Daoguang: HONG Tao
WANG Ding: GUO Da
QI Shan: GUAN Dongtian
During the Daoguang period of Qing Dynasty, opium exerts a widespread pernicious influence in China and impairs the empire to increasing moral weakness. A memorial to the throne astounds the court above and the masses below while the debate over whether to strictly prohibit the circulation of opium ends in a deadlock. LIN goes to Guangdong to ban opium smoking and trade under an imperial edict.
LIN tries his best to turn the tide against the imminent peril generated by aggressive foreigners, greedy opium traders, corrupt officialdom and the treacherous royal court. He goes to battle without fear.
China descends into semi-colonial and semi-feudal society since the strong ships and fierce guns break up its defense. The important figures who determines the fate of the nation present their psychological struggles on the historical stage when it comes to upheaval. The outstanding contrasts between weakness and power, cowardice and bravery, meanness and greatness are uncovered.
From confidence of settling matters to confusion about how to restore dignity of the country wrought in devastation, LIN discovers the slim hope in the pride reflected in the people’s eyes which have witnessed the destruction of opium on humans. He says, “Before the event in Guangzhou I only knew about China, after it, I can see the world!”