Get Dramatised at Beijing Arts Festival
After over ten years of development, the “Meet in Beijing” Arts Festival has now become a top art banquet.
The “Meet in Beijing” Arts Festival 2017 is about to kick off this summer. This national arts activity has entered its 17th session since 2000, displaying to Chinese audiences the cultural splendour of the world conveyed by 1,020 arts groups, 32,000 artists from 120 countries and regions. “Meet in Beijing” will showcase several sections including music, theatre, dancing, exhibition and outdoor music festivals and will invite over 400 artists of 23 excellent performing arts groups from 21 countries and regions to present nearly a hundred performances and exhibitions. Schedule a date with Beijing art this summer.
Dance Drama Sissi
The 1955 Austrian movie Sissi has imprinted on viewers its princess, a legendary symbol of beauty, wits and free spirit, and has inspired countless artistic sorts. In real life, Sissi married Franz Joseph I, Emperor of Austria, at the age of 16 and became Empress. However, the much more formal court life proved depressing for Sissi, who enjoyed a privileged upbringing since childhood. Later on, when the dual monarchy of Austria-hungary was established, Sissi was officially crowned as Queen of Hungary, in which she found real happiness. She learned Hungarian, helped the King with affairs of the state, frequently inspected civil life in private, and even joined in the planning and construction of Budapest. On account of what she had done for Hungary, Sissi was then also cordially called “Hungary's daughter” by the people. As the opening performance, the dance drama Sissi is sentimental but quintessentially Hungarian. The drama depicts the romance between Austrian Empress Sissi, Count Andrassy and a beautiful Gypsy girl. The opera is unique in that it not only tells the story of a legendary Sissi from Hungary's perspective, but also brings into the drama Hungary's two national treasures of culture— Hungarian folk dance and gypsy music, presented by Hungarian Experimental Dance Troupe and Budapest Gypsy Symphony Orchestra.
Different from regular dance dramas, Sissi has its orchestra moved onto the stage from the orchestra pit. The orchestra who accompanies the dance drama is none other than Budapest Gypsy Symphony Orchestra, Hungary's top orchestra, also titled “Hungary's Music Museum,” and “One Hundred Violin Orchestra,” has no percussion, brass or woodwind instruments but over a hundred violins, cellos and violones.
It is also the only symphony orchestra in Hungary and Europe that can simultaneously play traditional gypsy music, Jewish music and classical music. During the play, orchestra members, instead of sitting
upright, stand up from time to time to join in the stage performance. The cimbalom dulcimer, a musical instrument peculiar to Hungary, will also be used.
Sissi will feature modern dancing. After learning from Hungary's folk dancing, modern dance and classical ballet, Sandel Roman, Artistic Director of the dance troupe, has invented a whole new dancing style that strikes a chord with modern times, another factor that makes the drama unique. The ingeniously plotted legend of romance between Sissi, Count Andrassy (the most handsome man in Hungary) and a beautiful gypsy girl will be related through a visual splendour of Eastern European dancing that comes in the forms of magnificent royal court dance, lively and cheerful European folk dance and gypsy dance.
To Kill a Mockingbird
In 1960, Harper Lee, born in Alabama in the U.S., wrote the novel To Kill a Mockingbird set in a southern town, which told of an unjust trial revolving around racial injustice during the Great Depression from the perspective of a six-year-old child.
A case in which a black man who had been falsely accused of raping a young white woman caused a stir in a quiet town. The play will be staged by three children and offer detailed and sharp insight into racism and social prejudice in the American south. Tom Robinson, who worked on the plantation, was falsely accused and murdered by gunfire in his escape.
This was an example in which innocence was devoured by evil, witnessed by three children destined to grow up against misery and confusion after a series of injustices, and to stand firm in their pursuit of integrity. The novel uses a child's perspective in a humanitarian sense, and has since played an invaluable role in for generations of youth.
Though the story in To Kill a Mockingbird is remote, its humanitarian spirit is universal. In 1961, the widely influential novel was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. In 1962, the book was made into a film with the same title, starring Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch, a model of integrity in the legal profession. Peck went onto win the Oscar for Best Actor.
After its success in literature and on the silver screen, the book was then adapted as a play that dominated the stage for decades. “Meet in Beijing” will introduce the play To Kill a Mockingbird staged by Montana State Theatre, illustrating prejudices, integrity and courage, giving audiences food for thought and a chance to revisit the glory of this masterpiece. Lectures and activities will also be organised to fully display the play's literary merit and value.
A Sandpainting Dream
Sandpainting is a new stage performance growing in visual splendour. Created with ever- changing patterns, sandpainting turns a static art into a dynamic one, giving viewers the chance to witness the painter's painting and skills in colouring, presenting stories as vividly as creating comics. To see a
piece of artwork take shape, audiences are brought closer to art.
It is the same with the Spanish sandpainting performance Dream, which integrates sandpainting, the circus, live music and puppet shows. Using hands and sand, Spanish artists create different scenes on glass, with circumstances that reflect different emotions. Accompanied by live music, artist Pocha Gonzalo looks like a magician when spraying out sand from his fist, or exhales to subtly refine a pattern, or manipulate puppets in its painting, or rolls and tumbles in the air.
Under his hand, pictures illustrate the two protagonists growing up, coming of age and becoming lifelong companions. Life, with its bitterness and sweetness projected on the screen, where shadows vary from houses to trees, from Eiffel Tower to Leaning Tower of Pisa, indicate different stages in life. By telling a romantic story and displaying an entrancing dream, the 50-minute performance transcends a language barrier and nationalities and leaves behind an indelible memory as food for thought.
Pocha Gonzalo's sandpainting, with creative themes, distinct lines, soft colours, vivid pictures, and an ethereal feeling, is emotionally infectious. The original music that perfectly accompanies the drama is another highlight that is conveyed by pianos, violins, violones, guiros, Baglama and Rabab. Each note that harmoniously chimes with the scene is to strike a chord with the audience. The sandpainting performance is believed to serve as a bright spark in Spanish modern art, and offering the audiences a glimpse into the unique European country on the Iberian Peninsula.
Lithuanian Drama Mother
The drama Mother brought by Lithuania VMT National Theatre is an excellent stage work that is actually not so much hairraising as it is pathetic. It is based on Russian and Soviet writer Maxim Gorky's famous drama Vassa Zheleznova, telling how the shipyard female boss Vassa and her family are strangled in their plot against each other for money and in the twisted love— a cruel story that makes one's spine chilly. In the play, the female boss Vassa worships nothing but money. To protect her wealth, she goes as far as plotting to kill her brother. She is also a control freak who strongly desires to manipulate her two sons and daughters, resulting in their twisted marriage and character.
The drama is most emotionally infectious with its montage-style performance and dialogues. The lacklustre clothing, gloomy music and violent gestures all enshrouded in a chilled colour bring forth a miserable family suffering conflicts and loss and sweep up audiences like tornadoes. The acting is powerful and precise in depicting each character, contributing to a story that unveils the dark side of human nature.
The past two years have seen several Lithuanian dramas staged in China. In 2016, Remas Tuminas, the Lithuanian theatre director, attended the Nanluoguxiang Drama Festival with The Three Sisters and Madagascar. In the same year, his Masquerade stunned audiences in the National Grand Theatre. The drama Mother this time around is directed by Kirill Gerrusa Jef, a prominent young Lithuanian director who once learned from Remas Tuminas and is considered
his successor. Talking of Mother, Kirill said, “Family as a small unit of society is much more fragile than society itself. I prefer to see a drama full of conflicts between individuals rather than between different classes or ideologies.”
The Lithuania VMT National Theatre was founded in December 1990, preluded by Remas Tuminas's The Cherry Orchard written by Anton Chekhov, a Russian playwright. Despite being home to numerous talented creators and the cradle of countless classic works, the theatre at its earliest phase had no home itself. It had to find its way in small halls of the Lithuanian National Drama Theatre for rehearsals and performances, attaining the nickname, “Little Theatre of Vilnius.” In the fall of 2005, it was finally fixed at No. 22 Gediminas Avenue, Vilnius city, ending its 14-year-long parasitic life, and was renamed “Lithuania VMT National Theatre” later. It has since become a cultural icon of Vilnius and Lithuania.
Drama White Deer Plain
The introspective literature that thrived in the 1980s has inspired a series of novels created in the 1990s, which achieved a record high level reflecting national history and culture. Chen Zhongshi's White Deer Plain, is such a masterpiece. The book establishes Bai Jiaxuan as the narrator, and revolves around two heavyweight families—the Bais and Lus, the former having inherited the position of village chief for generations. Bai Jiaxuan married seven wives in his life, leaving behind three sons and one daughter, namely Bai Xiaowen, Bai Xiaowu, Bai Xiaoyi and Bai Ling. Lu San was the Bais' long-term hired hand, and Hei Wawas his eldest son. The Lus are represented by Lu Zilin, who had two sons, Lu Zhaopeng and Lu Zhaohai.
Bai Xiaowen became the village chief according to the custom. Hei Wa worked as a hired hand in a wealthy family, ending up eloping with his boss's mistress Tian Xiao'e, which repulsed the villagers. Later Hei Wa left the village, joined the revolutionary army and is forced to become a bandit, while Lu Zilin and Bai Xiaowen get addicted to opium, exhaust their wealth and try to earn a living outside the village.
Lu San found his daughter- in- law Tian Xiao'e so shameful that he had to kill her, but he was tortured to death by a haunting death scene. In the end, Bai Xiaowen rose from the ashes. Bai Ling, the only daughter of the family, joined the Communist Party and falls in love with Lu Zhaopeng.
Chen Zhongshi spent two years preparing and four years in writing the over-500,000-word novel, which was awarded the Mao Dun Literary Prize and became a classic in modern Chinese literature. In 2006, the drama White Deer Plain, produced by Beijing People's Art Theatre, directed by Lin Zhaohua, written by Meng Bing, starring Pu Cunxin and Song Dandan, premiered in the Capital Theatre and instantly won public acclaim. In 2016, Shaanxi People's Art Theatre adjusted the 2006 version and brought forth its new version of White Deer Plain directed by Hu Zongqi, written by Meng Bing, and staged at the Beijing Chinese Theatre. This version proved to be a pinnacle of modern Chinese theatre.
This time a whole new edition of White Deer Plain will be introduced. It is to be put on by the Capital Theatre, directed by Lin Zhaohua and Li Liuyi, double- directed by Han Qing and starring Pu Cunxin, Guo Da, Lu Fang and Jing Hao. The epic drama depicting 50 years of historical changes in Weihe Plain is sure to bring audiences face to face with a volatile history, absorbed in the rivals for rulership between two heavyweight families. The drama retains a range of plots such as “getting a land of treasure,” “honey-trap” and “killing his sonin-law.” The changes of scenes in Bais, Lus and Zhus integrate closely with the plots, accompanied by traditional Shaanxi folk songs and operas, to transport audiences space and time to witness history.
‘Vehicle@city@people’ Relay Series of Exhibition
“Vehicle@city@people” is a relay series of exhibition that spans one whole year. Divided into “Carriage Culture of Beijing,” “High-speed City” and “Future City Travel,” it uses modern internet language to link the vehicles, the city and its people in different historical settings. The premier exhibition “Carriage Culture of Beijing” will feature carriage culture and aims to inspire people's thoughts about it by displaying the people, carriages and etiquette of ancient Beijing.
The intermediate exhibition “HighSpeed City” is to interpret the association between modern vehicles and people's life. The “Future City Travel” exhibition will look to the future, explore the possibility of a futuristic city and transportation, picture new automotive technologies, city lifestyles and depict an ideal city.
It is the Auto Museum's first try characterised by its longest time span both in exhibition duration and exhibition content. All its development of history, culture, city and society is told from the perspective of vehicles to promote the concept of harmony of people, vehicles, life and society. The exhibition is most innovative in its half-openness. The “@” sign can be seen througout the exhibition, calling for people to participate in, submit old photos, articles and short stories themed on “Me With Beijing.” Visitors are involved and begin to wonder about and expect the next exhibition.
A Cappella Magic
“A cappella” is derived from “A Cappella,” which means "in chapel or choir style" in Italian. The music style was originally popular in the church and was not associated with musical accompaniment. However, in the 19th century a renewed interest in Renaissance polyphony coupled with an ignorance of the fact that vocal parts were often doubled by instrumentalists led to the term coming to mean unaccompanied vocal music.
“A cappella” means singing without instrumental accompaniment, a purely vocal performance that incorporate chorus, imitate musical instruments and make sounds from nature, whose variety is based on human voices.
Six Appeal is the most famous “A cappella” ensemble in the United States. This talented sextet of young singers uses their voices to navigate multiple genres of music, infuse their “a cappella” timing, and make old songs into new hits. Their far-reaching repertoire spans a multitude of decades and genres, including Pop, Country, Classic Rock, Jazz, R&B, and much more.
In 2012, they won the title “National Harmony Sweepstakes A cappella Festival Championship,” “Audience Favourite Team Award” and “Best Original Song Award,” becoming the only team that had reaped three awards in the last ten years. In 2013,
they sang an American national anthem at the live-streamed Sugar Bowl of ESPN and rose to nationwide fame overnight.
DAGADANA Beijing Concert 2017
The performance is from DAGADANA, an eight-year- old Polish band, who triumphantly integrated elements of Ukrainian and Polish culture through merging jazz, electronic music, world music and folk music. Adept at using sound synthesizers, big bass, even children's toys make various sound effects entrancing to listeners.
Ever since 2012 DAGADANA has become a routine visitor in China, it has also started collaborating with Chinese musicians, under which came their “The Meridian 68 (2016)” album. Musicians from the Inner Mongolia North Band were invited to record an album. Yet the album and joint concert wouldn't be without musicians' mutual appreciation and the solid support from Beijing Poland Association, Adam Mickiewicz Institute and Poznan City Hall Cultural Centre.
DAGADANA also makes frequent performance tours in Poland and China. So far it has attended Shanghai World Music Festival, Poland Arts Festival, Oriental Cultural Festival and Poland Third Radio Station's music recording, building a great fan base across China through imaginative performances.
Ancient Glory Shines Today
Guangdong Province, on the coast of South China Sea, with its numerous bays and ports, has been a main hub for China's maritime traffic and trade with the world since the Han Dynasty. It became even more important as a production base and relay station of exported artworks after the Canton System (1757–1842), which served as a means for China to control trade with the West within its own country by focusing trade on the southern port of Canton (now Guangzhou).
Delicate arts and crafts works from Guangdong including colourised ceramics, embroidery, carvings, paintings, silverware, lacquerware, fans, wallpaper and name card boxes, as well as China's three most famous delicacies—silk, china and tea, swarmed into western countries, causing a craze with Chinese products wherever they went.
“Ancient Glory Shines Today— Exhibition of Guangdong Export Artworks in the Qing Dynasty” to be hosted in China Customs Museum is one that aims to display the cultural communication between China and the west. The exhibition is divided into eight sections based on eight kinds of exported artwork, namely colorised ceramics, embroidery, carvings, paintings, silverware, lacquerware, fans, wallpaper and name card boxes.
Aside from antiques borrowed from Guangdong Provincial Museum, those antiques preserved by China Customs Museum will also be displayed to present the history of cultural and economic communication between China and the West. To make the exhibition more visually appealing, China Customs Museum even managed to rent more than 20 pieces of Qing Dynasty European-style furniture from collectors to revive a “19th century European aristocracy.” The exhibition has won the Top 10 Exhibition Award for National Museums, nicknamed “the Oscar for Chinese museums.”
Masterpiece Ballet Swan Lake
By the enchanted lake, Princess Odette turned into a white swan by an evil sorcerer's curse. The hero, Prince Siegfried, fell in love with her while out riding on the lake. At night when Siegfried had to choose his bride, the evil sorcerer let his own daughter, the dark swan, disguise as Odette to cheat him. Luckily, Siegfried spotted the trick in time and killed the evil sorcerer. The story ends with Odette returning to her princess living happily ever after with his prince.
Swan Lake, based on a German folk tale in the Middle Ages, was composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, who used symphonies to create legendary music. As for the acting, in the third act of the show, the solo dancer who plays Odile is required to do 32 fouetté turns, a difficult move. The move was first invented in 1892 by Pirina Legnani, an Italian ballet dancer, and premiered in the St. Petersburg version of Swan Lake. Combining soft dancing, enduring stamina and perfections in technique, the move is able to indicate the dark swan's inner world as different from the white swan's. It is today considered a touchstone in measuring ballet dancers and ballet groups.
Since its Moscow debut in 1877 about 140 years ago, Swan Lake has almost become ballet's other name, inspiring different versions that were soon followed across the world. The arts festival this time will bring the version produced by the ballet troupe of Belarus National Model Theatre, a main venue for music and drama performance in Belarus and also the country's cultural symbol. In the past 15 years, the theatre has made several performance tours in over 30 countries, its 120 ballet artists having won countless honours and awards in all kinds of competitions both at home and abroad, with classical ballet always being a pivotal part. Swan Lake, a classic ballet that has stood the test of time, is an irreplaceable icon for audiences. It will be the finale show for the “Meet in Beijing” Arts Festival in 2017.
The “Meet in Beijing” Arts Festival will also gather other acts including the “1994-2017 Nature of Art” exhibition, BAM PERCUSSION Comic Interactive Percussion performance, Klô Pelgag Duet Concert and the dance Seeds staged by the Carolyn Carlson Dance Company in France. The artistic delicacies are prepared by the arts festival to broaden the citizens' horizons and strengthen their understanding in art. Citizens in turn will encourage the arts festival with active participation. After over ten years of development, the “Meet in Beijing” Arts Festival has now become a top world-level art banquet.
A poster of ‘‘Vehicle@city@people’ Relay Series of Exhibition’’