‘China’s Shake­speare’ takes cen­ter stage in events in Bri­tain

China Daily (USA) - - JIANGXI SPECIAL - By CHEN NAN chen­nan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

A se­ries of cul­tural events have been planned to mark the 400th an­niver­sary of the death of cel­e­brated play­wright Tang Xianzu (1550-1616), who is known to his de­voted fans as “The Shake­speare of the East”.

The events have been ar­ranged by the lo­cal gov­ern­ment in Fuzhou, Jiangxi prov­ince, where Tang was born.

The Ming-Dy­nasty (13681644) play­wright also 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 — col­lec­tively known as The Four Dreams of Linchuan.

As Shake­speare and Tang both died in 1616, an event was held from April 22-30 in Shake­speare’s home­town of Strat­ford-upon-Avon in the United King­dom to honor the two great play­wrights. Tang’s mas­ter­piece, The Peony Pavil­ion, which is one of the most fa­mous Kunqu opera pieces, was staged dur­ing the event, along with per­for­mances of Fuzhou’s lo­cal folk opera.

Pho­tos of Tang’s home­town will also be ex­hib­ited at the Univer­sity of Leeds and a Shake­speare mu­seum in Strat­ford.

This Septem­ber, a three-day event, the third China Fuzhou Tang Xianzu Art Fes­ti­val, cel­e­brated the lega­cies of the two play­wrights. Opened by a mu­si­cal, ti­tled Tang Xianzu, per­formed by the Shang­hai Con­ser­va­tory of Mu­sic, the event also saw the open­ing of the Tang Xianzu Me­mo­rial Mu­seum, a 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 UK.

In add i t i on , TheFourDream­sofLinchuan Strat­ford-upon-Avon and Fuzhou signed a co­op­er­a­tion agree­ment at Linchuan No 1 Mid­dle School in Fuzhou.

“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 hold a sum­mer camp, which will see our stu­dents go to the UK,” said Zhang Hongx­ing, mayor of Fuzhou, dur­ing the event in Septem­ber.

A lo­cal Fuzhou-di­alect ver­sion of The Four Dreams of Linchuan, which was adapted from Tang’s four well-known works, was also staged at Bei­jing’s Na­tional Cen­ter for the Per­form­ing Arts, Tsh­inghua Univer­sity and Pek­ing Univer­sity in Oc­to­ber.

Ex­hi­bi­tions to mark the con­tri­bu­tions made to world lit­er­a­ture by Tang and Shake­speare are be­ing held in 26 Chi­nese Cul­tural Cen­ters in dif­fer­ent coun­tries through De­cem­ber.

Ti­tled Di­a­logue Across Time and Space: Homage to Tang Xianzu and Wil­liam

We will in­vite lit­er­ary ex­perts from the UK to Fuzhou, and we will also hold a sum­mer camp, which will see our stu­dents go to the UK.”

Zhang Hongx­ing,

mayor of Fuzhou Shake­speare, the ex­hi­bi­tions, which started on Sept 1 in Sin­ga­pore, com­pare the lives and works of the two drama­tists whose in­flu­ences re­main pow­er­ful to this day. The shows, which are slated to end in Mau­ri­tius, will be ac­com­pa­nied by sem­i­nars, fo­rums, movie screen­ings, live per­for­mances

have been per­formed in

PHO­TOS PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

The Ganju opera ren­der­ings of Tang Xianzu’s var­i­ous cities in the United King­dom.

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