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Beijing hutong theater enjoys a leading role

Updated: 2022-09-30 08:36 ( Xinhua )
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Inside a downtown hutong, a traditional alley in Beijing, the Star Theater has become a landmark stage for avant-garde dramas, where, since June, Wang Guang has played the leading role in more than 30 performances of the drama, The Desperate Love.

The shy and slim 23-year-old, who graduated from Jilin University of Arts in June, won the heart of Huang Yanzhuo, the drama director, and became the only actor to sign with the theater this year.

"Wang has a talent for bringing the character to life," Huang says.

Wang plays the character Wang Wenxue, who, despite being shy, is desperate for and faithful to love.

In the small theater, which can only accommodate an audience of 200 people, the distance between actors on stage and the first row of seats is about three meters.

"When I am on the stage, I can easily interact with the audience through eye contact," Wang Guang says, talking about his special moments on stage. "On one occasion, I made eye contact with an elderly woman, who shed tears. Maybe she was touched by the play, perhaps because it brought back memories of her youth."

Wang Guang's outstanding performance in The Desperate Love has won him opportunities to participate in more plays staged by the theater. He says he is taking music and dance courses to improve his overall skill set.

The theater, which provides some 1,000 performances a year, has produced over 50 original plays, attracting audiences of all ages. Unlike movies and TV series, each play requires continuous acting for about two hours without interruption.

"It is my pursuit to make the audience feel like they are involved in the drama," Wang Guang says.

Deng Wei, vice-president of Star Theater, says that most of the theater's contracted actors are in their 20s.

"We conducted a survey among the audience and found that Star Theater is the place where many college students in Beijing had their first experience of watching a play," says Deng.

In recent years, small theaters are gaining popularity in cities across China. The theaters create an immersive and interactive atmosphere that involves the audience in the charm of dramatic stories.

Wang Guang says that performing at the small theater has provided him with a sound start to his career. "I hope someday to become a director of stage dramas," he adds.

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