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Japanese twist to arts festival

2014-05-23 09:25:25

(China Daily) By Sun Ye


Shugen-Celebration/Expression is a production by Chinese, Korean and Japanese performers. Provided to China Daily

The past four years of the Beijing Nanluoguxiang Performing Arts Festival has marked it as an event, where experimental ideas and art meet. This year, there will be a noticeable Japanese tinge to the annual event.

Over the course of the festival's 10-week run, 48 performances and a score of workshops and screenings will be held around Nanluoguxiang, one of eastern Beijing's coolest districts.

The festival will open on May 23, with Shugen-Celebration/Expression, a Japanese, Korean and Chinese joint production that responds to the massive 2011 Tohoku Earthquake in the typical Japanese "quiet theater language" of theater, dance, music and photography.

Makoto Sato, the veteran Japanese theater artist, will pay tribute to Chinese literary legend Mao Dun's book China in A Day. He will collaborate with his Chinese counterparts for a performance art piece that takes a look at events in China on May 21, 2014, almost 80 years after the day that is examined in Mao's classic book. The materials they work with will come from submissions solicited from around the country.

Hirada Oriza, the renowned Japanese playwright, director and leader of the theater company Seinendan who championed plays in the Japanese vernacular, will conduct workshops with Chinese audiences for a deeper understanding of an artist's social responsibilities.

"We've been working with Japanese artists for a long time. But there is a particular focus this year," says Lai Huihui, the festival's program director. "It's natural, as we've found more and more in common with them.

"We're both oriental civilizations that value interpersonal relations above personal conditions - the philosophies are similar. We've both gone through stages when Western influences come into conflict with our own identity.

"So it's only natural that we both are more accepting and come to be inspired by what the other brings."

For the first time in the festival's history, a section called "social reality" has been put together. Nine of the country's emerging directors will stage plays that reflect their takes on society.

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