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Peking Opera joins industrial era

By Cheng Yuezhu | China Daily | Updated: 2024-05-28 07:47

A digital set design enhances the story's contemporary industrial setting.CHINA DAILY

As the story is set against an industrialized port backdrop, Jin Sa, the production's stage designer and a professor from the National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts, decided to adopt primarily digital projection, instead of traditional stage settings, to present the dynamics of the contemporary industry, as well as to highlight the narrative.

First initiated in 2022, the production made its premiere in April 2023, under the title Oriental Grand Port, and was honored as an excellent production at the 10th Chinese Peking Opera Arts Festival last year. The crew continued to make refinements to the production and the performers kept honing their acting and singing.

At a roundtable discussion on May 19, the production received critical acclaim from performing arts experts and scholars.

"Seeing its polished version this year, I believe that this production has achieved a pioneering fusion of Peking Opera, industrial themes and performing arts expressions. Especially in the field of Peking Opera, it is very difficult to make such a breakthrough," says Cui Wei, former secretary-general of the China Theatre Association.

"My greatest takeaway is that through artistic expression, the production presents the philosophy behind the construction of Qingdao's automated port and the dedication of technical and industrial workers. Only those who innovate can progress and succeed. This embodies the spirit and vitality of China."

For the production's future performances, apart from making improvements, Lu has a vision that it can become a resident production in Qingdao in the long term.

"During our last field trip, we arrived at the old port of Qingdao near the city center. There, we saw several former granary buildings, which were being renovated into cultural venues, and I asked whether we could reserve one of the buildings as a theater," Lu says.

"Qingdao is a tourist city, and Qingdao Port is a significant cultural emblem of the city. We hope that this production, after making further refinements, could be performed on-site at the port. This would allow visitors from home and abroad to learn about the specific history of Qingdao's port construction."

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