Ac­tiv­i­ties honor two great fig­ures

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE - By CHENNAN in Fuzhou, Jiangxi province chennan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

The 400th an­niver­sary of the death of fa­mous Chi­nese play­wright Tang Xianzu was marked at the three-day Third China Fuzhou Tang Xianzu Art Fes­ti­val, which ended on Mon­day in Fuzhou, Jiangxi province, Tang’s birth­place.

The events in­cluded a grand pa­rade at the open­ing cer­e­mony, the pre­miere of the mu­si­cal Tang Xianzu per­formed by the Shang­hai Con­ser­va­tory of Mu­sic and the open­ing of the Tang Xianzu Memo­rial Mu­seum.

The Ming Dy­nasty (1368-1644) play­wright from Fuzhou com­posed more than 2,000 poems and es­says, most of which were writ­ten dur­ing his later years.

He is par­tic­u­larly re­mem­bered for his four plays: The Peony Pav­il­ion, The Pur­ple Hair­pin, Record of the South­ern Bough and Record of Han­dan. They’re col­lec­tively known as The Four Dreams of Linchuan.

Be­sides Tang, the cel­e­brated poet and play wright Wil­liam Shake­speare, who­lived thou­sands of kilo­me­ters away and also died in 1616, was also cel­e­brated dur­ing the fes­ti­val.

The stage pro­duc­tion A Mid­sum­mer Night’s Dreaming Un­der the South­ern Bough by the Univer­sity of Leeds — which com­bined Shake­speare’s A Mid­sum­mer Night’s Dream and Tang’s Record of the South­ern Bough, as well as fo­rums com­pris­ing schol­ars from China and the United King­dom — hon­ored the two play­wrights’ lives and works.

Mean­while, the UK’s Strat­ford-on-Avon and China’s Fuzhou, the home­towns of Wil­liam Shake­speare and Tang Xianzu, signed a mem­o­ran­dum of co­op­er­a­tion at the Linchuan No 1Mid­dle School in Fuzhou on Sept 25.

“The mem­o­ran­dum will help strengthen the in­flu­ence and legacy of the two play­wrights. We will in­vite lit­er­ary ex­perts from the UK to Fuzhou, and we will also have a sum­mer camp, which will see our stu­dents go to the UK,” says Zhang Hongx­ing, mayor of Fuzhou.

The mem­o­ran­dum, ac­cord­ing to Chris Saint, leader of the Strat­ford-on-Avon Dis­trict Coun­cil, is a fol­low-up move af­ter rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Strat­ford-on-Avon and Fuzhou city met in the UK on April 23 to cel­e­brate the lives and works of the two play­wrights.

“They were con­tem­po­raries, whose writ­ten works have sur­vived and are still per­formed to­day. Over 400 years later, their lit­er­a­ture re­mains both loved and pop­u­lar,” says Saint, who was in Fuzhou along with a team of rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the UK, in­clud­ing Karen Mad­docks, deputy con­sul­gen­eral of the Bri­tish Con­sulate-Gen­eral Guangzhou.

Speak­ing of the con­tem­po­raries, Ben­net Carr, head­mas­ter of the King Ed­ward VI school, Shake­speare’s school in Strat­ford up­on­which now has Man­darin in its cur­ricu­lum, says: “Their le­ga­cies have much in com­mon. There are 37 plays at­trib­uted to Wil­liam Shake­speare cov­er­ing a va­ri­ety of sub­jects. Many had the themes of power, love and tri­umph over ad­ver­sity as did Tang’s, who wrote about a full range of hu­man emo­tions, such as in The Peony Pav­il­ion.”

The idea of com­mem­o­rat­ing Tang and Shake­speare through the year came from a speech by Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping, who, dur­ing his visit to Bri­tain in Oc­to­ber last year, called on both coun­tries to jointly “cel­e­brate the legacy of these two lit­er­ary giants to pro­mote in­ter­per­sonal ex­changes and deepen mu­tual un­der­stand­ing”.

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Per­form­ers from a Fuzhou opera troupe present the Kunqu Opera ThePeonyPav­il­ion by Ming Dy­nasty (1368-1644) play­wright Tang Xianzu.

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