DUNHUANG COMES ALIVE
A show which debuted at the first Silk Road Dunhuang International Cultural Expo gives visitors a real-life experience of the region’s history. Deng Zhangyu reports from Dunhuang, in Gansu province.
daily lives of people living in the Tang Dynasty — from dancers to scholars writing calligraphy.
Speaking about the challenges of doing such a show, the director Wang Chaoge says: “It’s easy to tell a touching love story, or a story about a historical figure. But it’s very difficult to put on stage the whole history of a well-known city, covering 2,000 years.”
Revealinghowshe prepared for her current assignment, which was launched on Sept 20, she says for the past two years she read many books on the history of Dunhuang.
Before Encore Dunhuang, Wang had produced many tourist shows for many cities in China, such as Pingyao in Shanxi province, known historically for its rich businessmen, and Wutai Mountain, also in Shanxi province, known for its temples.
Many of them were outdoor performances. But, as for the Dunhuang production, the performance is staged in a huge glass theater due to the difficult weather conditions.
The theater, which looks like a drop of water in a dessert, was designed by architect Zhu Xiaodi.
For Wang, the current collaboration with Zhu is her second venture with him.
He had also designed a theater for her play Encore Pingyao in 2014.
The Dunhuang water-like theater is said to have cost 600 million yuan ($90 million).
The show, for which tickets are priced at 298 yuan, is in Chinese, and the director says she has no intention of providing an English translation as she believes people can understand it despite not knowing the language.
As of now, almost half of the tourists visiting Dunhuang are foreigners, according to the local government.
Lothar Fickert, a professor from Germany, who visited Dunhuang for the first time, watched the play with his wife the day he arrived.
He says he had no problem with the play although it involved history that he was not very familiar with .
“It’s gorgeous! The picturelike performance speaks for itself. It’s done in a very tasteful way. Good pictures, ” he says, adding he will recommend it to his friends.
The director is confident about her show which allows people walk while watching it and stop for the last part — to sit down in a real auditorium.
“From the ‘ model’ show and caves full of Buddha statues, to different dynasties, I have to direct not only the performers but also the audience,” says Wang.
“I let them witness history in a vivid way, and feel that everything will be buried in the sand as time passes by,” she adds.
It’s easy to tell a touching love story ... But it’s very difficult to put on stage the whole history of a wellknown city, covering 2,000 years.” show director
Historical figures audiences encounter during the performance include Zhang Qian, the first diplomat who was sent by an emperor of the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220) to visit Central Asia. Wang Chaoge,
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