Activities honor two great figures
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”.
Performers from a Fuzhou opera troupe present the Kunqu Opera ThePeonyPavilion by Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) playwright Tang Xianzu.