China Daily (Hong Kong)

Feast of shows to attract audiences

- By JI HAISHENG

The third Jiangnan Culture and Arts & Internatio­nal Tourism Festival kicks off in Suzhou, Jiangsu province on Sept 22 and will run through the end of October with a variety of shows on its schedule.

Jiangnan, the region south of the Yangtze River, boasts a long history of traditiona­l Chinese culture, while Suzhou, a city often associated with Jiangnan, has witnessed cultural diversity in the region. It is often said that Suzhou brings out the best in Jiangnan.

As a window to the beauty of Jiangnan, the event in Suzhou is presented as “a feast of culture and arts” and “a festival for the people”, that aims to accelerate the brand-building of distinctiv­e Jiangnan culture.

During the Tang (618-907) and Song (960-1279) dynasties, the region — as a confluence of the Grant Canal, the Silk Road and the Maritime Silk Road — had gradually become the economic and cultural center of the country. Booming businesses and cultural exchanges endowed the Jiangnan culture with rich connotatio­ns.

Sessions in the culture and arts festival cover a wide range of categories, including performanc­e, fine arts, calligraph­y, film and folk craft, as well as cultural forums and tours.

The event will be held across Suzhou in multiple counties and districts to present an aesthetic wonder for local citizens and tourists alike.

Classic works

Stage performanc­e is still a highlight of the annual festival. This session, which features not only classic operas and popular dramas, but also Kunqu Opera and pingtan, (an art form combining storytelli­ng and ballad singing in Suzhou dialect), has more than 200 performanc­es on its schedule.

Among the classic performanc­es are the opera Morning Bell by the Shanghai Opera House, the dance drama The Red Detachment of Women by the National Ballet of China and The Painting Journey — The Legend of A Panorama of Mountains and Rivers, a dance drama combining Chinese poems with dance movements by the China Oriental Performing Arts Group.

There will also be shows presented by local troupes to celebrate the 100th anniversar­y of the founding of the Communist Party of China. For example, Suzhou Kunqu Theater will present a new Kunqu production of Jiang Jie, paying tribute to Party member and revolution­ary martyr Jiang Zhuyun.

The second session of Jiangnan Little Theater event will present a slew of special performanc­es, featuring both modern dramas and traditiona­l operas.

For one thing, dramas, plays, comedies and talk shows will bring more fun to theaters. Audiences can have the novel experience of watching romantic sitcom the Cinematic Duo,

when they have a chance to be involved in the love story as the hero or the heroine. The drama, co-produced by Suzhou Culture and Arts Centre and Beijing Jalent Organizati­on, will be staged every Friday, Saturday and Sunday during the festival at SCAC No 1 Theater.

As a sideline event of the festival, the 4th Jiangnan Youth Theatre Festival will be celebrated with multiple plays, including An Inspector Calls, The Life Comments of Two Dogs and If There Is No Tomorrow.

A number of theatrical production­s tailored for small theaters, either results of an incubation program or original production­s of local theater teams, will also be brought on stage.

The festival will not let traditiona­l drama enthusiast­s down. Starting in October, special theaters will present shows with local cultural characteri­stics, such as Kunqu Opera and pingtan.

Citizens and visitors, therefore, will also find themselves busy traveling the highways and byways to experience the charm of unique Suzhou music and arts.

The 8th Chinese Kunqu Opera Art Festival will be carried out with epidemic prevention and control measures. Through both online and offline platforms, 26 outstandin­g plays from eight institutio­ns, including national Kunqu Opera troupes, colleges and universiti­es, and private groups, are all vying with each other for the audience’s attention.

Meanwhile, at the 8th Chinese Suzhou Pingtan Art Festival offers over 20 outstandin­g performanc­es from 11 profession­al and private groups from Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Shanghai.

 ?? A romantic PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY ?? Artists perform Kunqu Opera The Peony Pavilion, tragicomed­y originally written in 1598.
A romantic PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY Artists perform Kunqu Opera The Peony Pavilion, tragicomed­y originally written in 1598.

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