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Presenting plays for the people

Prestigious theater enters 2024 in fiery form, with Shanghai tour and first foreign performance since pandemic, Chen Nan reports.

By Chen Nan | China Daily | Updated: 2024-02-06 08:07

During this year's Spring Festival, Beijing People's Art Theatre will stage Beneath the Red Banner, adapted from Lao She's novel with the same title, which is directed by Feng Yuanzheng and Yan Rui, and features actor Pu Cunxin as the leading role.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Catching a performance by the Beijing People's Art Theatre is on the list for theatergoers in the capital during the upcoming Spring Festival holiday, which falls on Saturday.

The theater, one of the most prestigious in China, has already announced its holiday program.

Beneath the Red Banner, a play adapted from the Lao She novel of the same title, runs from Jan 19 to Feb 13 at the Capital Theater, home of the Beijing People's Art Theatre. The stage adaptation, which premiered on Jan 18 last year, is directed by Feng Yuanzheng and Yan Rui, and features actors including Pu Cunxin, Yang Lixin and Liang Danni.

"I can still vividly remember the warm audience feedback when we premiered the play as our first show in 2023. Tickets for the nine shows sold out fast," says Feng, who is an actor and also president of the Beijing People's Art Theatre.

"We decided to stage the production again at the beginning of the new year to mark the 125th anniversary of Lao She's birth," he adds.

Born Shu Qingchun to a Manchu family in Beijing in 1899, Lao She (1899-1966), is best known for his vivid grassroots depictions of social reality and Beijing culture, and particularly for his use of humor and the Beijing dialect.

Beneath the Red Banner is an unfinished autobiographical novel. It is told from the perspective of a Manchu boy and deals with his childhood and family, including portrayals of his father, a poorly paid soldier who gets killed during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900, and his mother, a diligent woman who supports the family. Lao She's vivid descriptions of the Manchu system, etiquette, ceremony, dialect and other aspects are poignant and realistic.

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