"The stage drama is a culture, rather than a business. It is not a pure art," Shao Zehui, drama director and secretary general at Beijing Young Dramatists Association (BYDA), said.
With about a week to go until the 5th Beijing Fringe Festival (BJFF), Shao seemed weary but enthusiastic. Shao separates BJFF from commercial or State-launched performances and events, as the latter two are usually mainstream and held for profit.
"There is no branding for BJFF. If it has to be [labeled], it would be 'creativity,'" Shao said.
From September 3 to 30, the 5th BJFF will be hosted by Beijing Federation of Literary and Art Circles and Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture, undertaken by Beijing Theatre Association and BYDA.
Sixty-three dramas from various regions, including the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Austria and France, will be staged.
Seven sections are divided according to the region and style of the dramas. Some, like Strindberg's World, are already classics. Others, like Keep a Dream, will debut at the festival.
A new creative section this year features 12 dramas that run about 30 to 40 minutes, half the amount of time of the usual show. The section is experimental in themes and styles. Some experimental plays, like Weird Tales of Beijing, come from expats living in Beijing, sharing their experiences in the city. Other dramas about individual exploration might only appeal to a niche audience.
According to Shao, though there is only one section labeled as "creative," most works at BJFF are contemporary rather than traditional.
Some plays do not follow a clear storyline; some are staged without words but only action.
The shows will be performed at 12 theaters in Beijing, including National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA), Ullens Center for Contemporary Art and Trojan House. There will also be script reading and forums.