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Production of classic Kunqu play set for stage

Updated: 2022-11-18 07:45 ( CHINA DAILY )
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The Shanghai Kunqu Opera Troupe will launch a new production of Peony Pavilion that will be performed at the Shanghai Grand Theater from Nov 19 to 20.

The most celebrated masterpiece in traditional Chinese opera, Peony Pavilion, a Kunqu Opera piece, has been adapted many times over the past decades, says Gu Haohao, director of the company.

The upcoming production will present all 55 acts of the play over three sessions, spanning eight hours.

Director Guo Xiaonan rearranged the script written by Tang Xianzu (1550-1616), based on an adaptation of the same by the late playwright Wang Renjie, and noted that the play reflects the confrontation between society and Confucian doctrines dominant in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

Peony Pavilion tells the story of a young woman named Du Liniang who dies of love sickness after dreaming of an amorous encounter with a man named Liu Mengmei. Encouraged by the governor of the underworld, the ghost of the woman appears when Liu stays in the garden where Du is buried.

Liu excavates her from the grave and has her resurrected. He has to prove to Du Liniang's father, Du Bao, a high-ranking official, that his daughter has come back to life, and that he will be a worthy son-in-law.

"Many of the previous theater productions focused on the love story between Liu and Du, but I believe the third session is extremely important," Guo said between rehearsals ahead of the premiere.

"All the loose ends are picked up and characters reach the final destination, where love wins over moral doctrines, as well as the strict barrier between life and death."

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