|Beijing People's Art Theatre, Teahouse, Hamburg, 2015|
Tour Dates: 30th June - 5th July, 2015
Beijing People’s Art Theatre founded on June 12th 1952 with Dramatist Cao Yu as its first president, Beijing People's Art Theatre is a national theatre company with unique art style.
Beijing People’s Art Theatre
Founded on June 12th 1952 with Dramatist Cao Yu as its first president, Beijing People's Art Theatre is a national theatre company with unique art style. Ever since its establishment, the theatre has put on more than 300 productions of diverse styles, home and abroad.
From 1950s to 1960s, the theatre built its reputation on stage works of literature giants as Guo Moruo, Lao She, Cao Yu and Tian Han. Representative productions include Tiger Tally, Cai Wenji, Wu Zetian, The Dragon Whisker's Ditch, Rickshaw Man Xiangzi, Teahouse, Thunderstorm, The Sunrise, Peking Man and Guan Hanqing, and foreign plays like The Miser, Aesop, People with Gun, Even the Wise Stumble etc. From late 60s, the renowned theatre artist Jiao Juyin had trained a large group of artists such as Yu Shizhi, Diao Guangtan, Zhu Lin, Tong Chao when he was the general director of the theatre.
Since 1980s the theatre has staged more than a hundred new productions with the emerging of a group of excellent artists of young generation. Among these productions many last long time on stage and gained national awards including “Wen Hua Award”, “Five-one Best Works Award”, “Golden Chrysanthemum Award” and “Literature and Art Works Award”. The list includes Wang Zhaojun, Warning Signals, Xiao Jing Hutong, Weddings and Funerals, Uncle Doggie's Nirvana, Top Restaurant, Li Bai, Birds Men, Ga Lan Hutong, Beijing Masters, Love Fool, First-Time Close Contact, Myriad Twinkling Lights, South Courtyard on Northern Street, I Love Peach Blossom, The Bless of the Family and foreign plays like DerBesuch Der Alton Dame, Amadeus, The Death of a Salesman, The Gin Game, The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial, The Butcher, The Late Christopher Bean and so on.
In 1980, Teahouse’s tour in Germany, France and Switzerland incept the abroad acceptance of Chinese spoken drama. After this, Wang Zhaojun, Teahouse, Top Restaurant, The Death of a Salesman, Uncle Doggie's Nirvana, Birds Men, Ruan Lingyu, Antiques and Wuchang· Nvdiao toured in America, Japan, Canada, Singapore, Korea, Egypt, Ireland, Hong Kong and Macao took the same journey.
Based on its explorations and aesthetics, in the past half century, the company has established its celebrated style combines realism with emphasis on culture identity, i.e. performing school of Beijing People’s Art Theatre.
The company has its own stages including three theatre spaces: the Capital theatre, the Mini theatre and the Experiment theatre. The subsidiary production center has a professional team working on settings, costumes and props both for the company’s production and other companies’.
The first one in China, the 1,300 square meters Theatre Museum of Beijing People's Art located at the fourth floor of The Capital theatre opened to the public at the beginning of 2007. The museum functions well for research, education and exhibition with its rich collection of pictures, scripts, prop models and properties. Meanwhile it shows the history of Beijing People's Art Theatre itself with the traces of its heroes, productions and precious relationship between the company and its audience crystallized and embodied by its historical material.
Lao She (1899-1966)
Born Shu Qingchun, also known as Shu She Yu, Lao She was a Manchurian from the True Red Banner clan and lived in Peking (Beijing). Lao She was born into a poor family. His father was killed during the Eight Power Allied Forces incursion when Lao She was young. His novels Lao Zhang de Zhe Xue (The Philosophy of Lao Zhang), Zhao Zi Yue (Thus Says Zhao Zi) and Er Ma (Mr. Ma and Son) were written in his youth and established him from early on as one of the pioneers of modern Chinese literature. After the founding of the People's Republic of China, Lao She served variously as the vice-chairman of the All-China Federation of Literature and Art and vice-chairman of the Union of Chinese Writers, as well as chairman of the Beijing City Federation of Literature and Art. During his tenure, he took part in a broad spectrum of political, social and cultural events, as well as exchanges with foreign delegates.
In 1950, Lao She purchased a simple courtyard house located at Number 10, Fengsheng Hutong, Naizi Prefecture, Dong Cheng District, Beijing, and settled his family there. The Beijing People's Art Theatre, completed in 1952, was sited one street away along Shijia Hutong. When the People's Art Theatre moved into the Capital Theatre after its completion in 1956, it was literally within walking distance from Lao She's home. When there was a collaborative production with the Theatre, Lao She would stroll over and recite the script to the actors, even demonstrating the voices and mannerism of the characters. His vivid acting would inspire the actors to greater creativity. The directors and actors from the Theatre would also drop by Lao She's home, which was nicknamed Dan Shi Xiao Yuan (The Courtyard of Crimson Persimmons), to discuss the details of the stage productions. To date, the Beijing People's Art Theatre has performed seven of Lao She's plays, including Long Xu Gou (Dragon Beard Ditch), Chun Hua Qiu Shi (Flowers of Spring and Fruits of Fall) and Nu Dian Yuan (The Salesgirl).
In 1956, Lao She wrote a play in multiple acts that reflected political reform in contemporary China for the Theatre. In the first act, Lao She portrayed a variety of characters and their stories since the failure of the Hundred Day Reformation and set the scene at a grand tea house. After fellow playwright Cao Yu and a few others heard Lao She's recitation of the play, they suggested him to develop the story from the tea house scene. Lao She accepted their suggestion and completed the three-act play Teahouse by the first half of 1957.
Jiao Juyin (1905–-1975)
Director. Served successively as First Vice President, Master Director and Artistic Committee Chairman of the Beijing People's Art Theatre.
Born Jiao Chengzhi in Tianjin, Jiao founded the Peking Opera School in 1930 that went on to groom a large pool of Peking opera artistes. He studied in France in 1935 and was conferred a Doctor of Arts from the University of Paris. He worked as a theatre practitioner in south-western China during the Sino-Japanese War, and translated a large amount of Gorky's and Chekhov's works, as well as Zola's novel Nana during this period. After the war, Jiao took on the posts of teaching professor and Head of the English Department at the Peking Normal University. Meanwhile, Jiao also founded the Peking Arts Gallery and directed the plays Ye Dian (Night Spot) and Shang Hai Wu Yan Xia (Under the Eaves of Shanghai).
During his tenure at the People's Art Theatre, Jiao directed well over 20twenty well-known plays, including Guo Moruo's Hu Fu (Tiger Talisman), Cai Wenji and Wu Ze Tian (Emperor Wu Zetian); Lao She's Dragon Beard Ditch and Teahouse; Cao Yu's Ming Lang de Tian (Sunny Day) and Dan Jian Pian (A Story of Courage and Swords); Tian Han's Guan Hanqing; Ding Xilin's San Kuai Qian Guo Bi (Three Dollars);, as well as Zhi Qu Wei Hu Shan (The Taking Of Tiger Mountain);, and Maxim Gorky's Yegor Bulychov and Others. Jiao's distinct and unique style was evident in his works, which achieved artistic heights while being well received by the audience. Many of his works have been retained as part of the Theatre’s repertoire of classics .
Jiao Juyin was an uncompromising yet unconventional artistic innovator-explorer who insisted on realism in his creations. Through his long-term work with the artistes of the Beijing People's Art Theatre, Jiao derived his law of artistic creativity together with these artistes, which states that "the creation of a distinct stage persona is rooted in the richness of life experiences and deep internalisation of these experiences.". This philosophy played a decisive, unifying role in guiding the creativity of the Theatre’s actors and directors, and the creation of the Theatre's artistic style. He aptly fused Stanislavsky's theatre philosophy with the aesthetic and artistic techniques of Chinese traditional opera and applied them to the theatre. He worked diligently at creating a system of theatre performance and directing that is uniquely Chinese, leaving behind a rich legacy for the Chinese theatre.
Xia Chun (1918-1996)
Director. Former Vice President and Deputy Director of the Artistic Committee of the Beijing People's Art Theatre.
Xia joined the patriotic drama troupe founded and led by Zhou Enlai and Guo Moruo in 1938. He had directed various plays including Xia Yan's Yi Nian Jian (Within A Year), Cao Yu's Tui Bian (Metamorphosis) and Ostrovsky's The Storm. During his tenure at the Beijing People's Art Theatre, he directed over thirty30 Chinese and foreign plays, including Lei Yu (The Thunderstorm by Cao Yu), Ming You Zhi Si (The Death of an Opera Star by Tian Han), The Miser (Molière), Teahouse (Lao She), Tong Zhi, Ni Zou Cuo le Lu (Comrade, You're Heading the Wrong Way by Yao Zhongming and Chen Bo'er), and Feng Xue Ye Gui Ren (Traveller in the Snowstorm by Wu Zuguang).
Artistically, Xia Chun was a firm adherent to realism and was deeply committed to exploring ways to create a Chinese drama style. Xia collaborated with Master Director Jiao Juyin in 1958 to direct the production of Teahouse. Xia went on to direct the restaging of Teahouse in 1979. In the fall of 1980, Xia led the People's Art Theatre on a hugely successful touring performance of Teahouse in West Germany, Switzerland and France.
Director. Former Vice President and incumbent Member of the Artistic Committee of the Beijing People's Art Theatre.
Lin graduated from the Performance Department at the Central Academy of Drama in 1961. He started his directing career in 1980 and pioneered the genre of Chinese mini-theatre when he directed the short drama Jue Dui Xin Hao (The Absolute Signal) in 1982. Over 30 years, Lin Zhaohua had directed more than 30 plays at the People's Art Theatre with seemingly inexhaustible creativity and talent, constantly exploring new artistic expressions and vocabulary. His directorial works Hong Bai Xi Shi (A Wedding and A Funeral), Gou’er Ye Nie Pan (Master Gou'er Ascends to Nirvana), Ye Ren (Savage), Niao Ren (Bird Man), Ruan Lingyu, Gu Wan (Antiques), Wan Jia Deng Huo (City Lights), Zhao Shi Gu’er (The Orphan of the Zhao Family), Bai Lu Yuan (White Deer Plain) and Wo Tou Hui Guan (Wotou Association) were critically acclaimed by the arts circle as well as the audiences.
Since the mid-1980s, the rest of the world started noticing Lin's works. Not only was he invited to stage many of his works abroad, he was also invited to direct the Thalia Theatre's production of Savage in Germany, the New National Theatre's production of Qi Ren (The Chess Player) in Japan, and the Central City Opera's opera production Poet Li Bai in Colorado, USA.
In 1999, Lin Zhaohua restaged Teahouse with a new cast and introduced major changes to the play's stage design. This version of Teahouse was subsequently staged in Taiwan.
In 2005, in commemoration of director Jiao Juyin's 100th birth anniversary, the People's Art Theatre restaged Jiao Juyin's version of Teahouse, with Lin as the Artistic Director.
In August 2013, Lin staged and directed Da Jiang Jun Kou Liu Lan (General Kou Liulan) at the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland, UK.
Beijing People’s Art Theatre Artistic Committee Member, National Grade A actor
Pu Cunxin, Vice President of the Beijing People’s Art Theatre, National Grade A actor
Representative works include: Teahouse, The Thunderstorm, Poet Li Bai, Bird Man, Ruan Lingyu, White Deer Plain, Wotou Association, General Kou Liulan, Uncle Vanya, Tian Zhi Jiao Zi (Son of Heaven), Fish Man, Antiques, Qin Huang Fu Zi (The Qin Emperor and His Son), A Breathtaking Scenery, Cai Wenji, City Lights, The Orphan of the Zhao Family, Bei Jie Nan Yuan (South Wing on North Street), The Seagull.
Representative works include: Teahouse, The Thunderstorm, The Best Restaurant in the World, Dragon Beard Ditch, Wotou Association, Cai Wenji, Ruan Lingyu, Bird Man, The Caine Mutiny, City Lights, The Miser, The Visit, Xiaojing Hutong, The Seagull, Metamorphosis, The Prairie, Beijing Da Ye (An Old Master of Beijing).
Post-Reform Movement, 1898
It is 1898, the year of the ill-fated Hundred Days’ Reform. The imperial court is utterly corrupt and the people are impoverished. The educated are divided into two camps—one group lobbies for social reform, while the other pushes for economic development. Hordes of secret agents lay in wait, seizing every opportunity to bully the common people. With all these happening around the Lao Yu Tai Tea House , the proprietor, Wang Li Fa, has to put up a sign “No discussion of national affairs” to protect his business.
Civil Strife, 1918
It is now the Republic era. Warlords fight one another, pulling the nation apart while foreign powers are poised to milk the chaotic situation for their own profit. The lives of the common people remain as hard and uncertain as before. Patriotic students are calling for the people to rise up to topple the “”traitors of China” and stand united against those opportunistic nations crouching at China’s doorstep. Faced with constant harassment, Wang’s ability to please everyone is stretched to the limit.
After the second Sino-Japan war, 1945
After being occupied by the Japanese for eight years, Peking is finally liberated. The rejoicing of the people is short lived, however, for the Kuomintang and American forces replace the warlords. The nation’s future is still dark and the government is even more corrupt and inept. Wang’s efforts to rescue the tea house from closure fails. Desperate, defeated and drained and desperate, Wang makes the painful decision to end his life.