season” of at the NCPA on June 12.
Like the first production, the show continues the director’s reflection on the relationship between people and technology. Instead of telling stories through the show, Zhang creates seven pieces, which are performed by artists from seven countries, including the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom and China.
In one piece, award-winning contemporary dancer Li Yu performs to the drum beats created by percussionists from U-Theater in Taiwan, alongside the sounds of (a traditional throat-singing technique of Mongolia), while robotic arms mimic his movements. The shadows of the robotic arms are projected on a big screen on the back of the stage, and they change from following Li’s moves to resisting, even threatening him.
“Technology changes our lives. But when I think of the relationship between technology and humans, I don’t just see the positive side,” Zhang laments. “I have three children and, like many young people, they are always looking at their phones. It made me think about the influence that technology has over us. It’s a doubleedged sword.” and it will debut
Referring to the production, he adds, “I don’t simply showcase the latest technology and ancient Chinese art forms. I am trying to find a point to merge them together in a beautiful and inspiring way.”
According to He Lulu, assistant director of both the first and second seasons of
the team has traveled the world to find the right artists for season two.
In the original show, they invited 78-year-old Wu Shuxiang from Anhua, in Southwest China’s Guizhou province, to display her weaving skills with her 200-year-old loom. Wu from the Miao ethnic group, learned the skill from her mother, and she had never performed onstage before.
In the new production, the team will bring three retired loggers from Fujian province — Lin Longyou, Lin Beixiang and Lin Yongzhao — all of whom are older than 75, to perform ancient songs from their hometown, some of which date back nearly 300 years.
More than 20 singers, between the ages of 5 and 69, who form the Poya Songbook Chorus, from Poya village in Yunnan province, Southwest China, will also perform. is an ancient collection of folk songs written on a piece of hand-woven cloth in hieroglyphic symbols. It originated from Poya village in Yunnan province. It is the only discovered record in the world that documents songs with hieroglyphics. In 2011, was added to the list of National Intangible Cultural Heritage.
International performers will include a Hungarian shadow theater group, Attraction Performance; Turkish design duo Ezratuba and Tetro; and LED installation artists from France.
Last year, Andy Flessas (aka Andy Robot), a Las Vegas-based roboticist and computer animator who worked with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and also with Lady Gaga, performed in the first season of Now, Flessas will bring more of his mechanized performers to the stage for season two of
“Robots are like wild animals,” says Flessas. “I train robots like training tigers. The first time we had four robots, and this time we have nine.
“In the first season, my job was to train the robots to understand dancing,” he says. “In this season, I teach them how to work with musical beats.
“Zhang gives me gift to find my greatest potential,” he continues. “I am doing something that I never thought I could do until I came to China.”
Besides films, Zhang has been pushing boundaries during the past 30 years. In 1998, he directed a version of Puccini’s opera
and he was also the director of the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games.
“We want to show the audience something they have never seen,” he says. “It takes lots of sleepless nights to create these original pieces, and is a nerve-wracking process.
“It’s much more complicated to make this show, compared with directing movies,” he says, ” but what attracts me to it is that I can learn lots of new things by working with these artists.”
He hopes to expand beyond the first two seasons, and he is keen to surprise audiences as well as hear their feedback.
“There have been many different views from the audience and critics about my movies,” he says. “I am looking forward to their views about
Chinese film director Zhang Yimou will premiere the second season of the stage production 2047 Apologue, which combines technology and traditional Chinese folk art, at the NCPA this June.
Chinese award-winning contemporary dancer Li Yu performs with robotic arms in the show.