China National Peking Opera Company Precede London Shows With Artist-led Workshops

China National Peking Opera Company Precede London Shows With Artist-led Workshops

Ahead of legendary stars Yu Kuizhi and Li Shengsu and a troupe of over 60 performers filling the stage at Sadler's Wells with two spectacular shows on the 19th and 20th October, the world's most revered practitioners invite UK audiences to a series of artist led workshops and sessions to share the many traditions, mysteries and artistic disciplines behind the captivating art form.

A prestigious panel of renowned artists from China, America and the UK, including much loved actress Lisa Lu, set to hit UK cinemas in Crazy Rich Asians this month, gather to discuss their experiences of working across different performing arts in different cultures over many decades.

This panel opens a programme of activity which leads up to the London appearances of China National Peking Opera Company at Sadler's Wells, presenting UK audiences with a rare opportunity to enjoy the world's finest exponents of the art form in two stunning shows - the masterpiece The Emperor and the Concubine and a spectacular double bill of martial arts, acrobatics and comedy, The Crossroads Inn & The Monkey King and The Leopard.

The series of activity also includes interactive workshops and short performances which explore and explain the traditions which lie at the heart of the hugely popular Peking Opera sharing behind the scenes examples of the music, instruments, costumes, make-up, characters and martial arts that make it so fascinating. These take place at the Oxford Ashmolean Museum and The British Library in London between 12 and 14 October.

The panel discussion at the British Library on 11 October will be facilitated by Professor Ruru Li with each guest having the opportunity to discuss and debate their experiences in the industry and particularly of working across borders and cultures.

There will also be two extracts of performance from The Gin Palace and a Peking Opera.

Panellists are:

Lisa Lu, is a famous Chinese-American actress and singer who has been based in Hollywood since 1960s. Influenced by her family in China, Lisa developed a love of Chinese Opera as a teenager. As a young woman her love for the performing arts grew and she moved to the United States and began a long and successful career in film, television and theatre. Lisa maybe best known to English speaking audiences for her roles in The Mountain Road (1960), The Last Emperor (1987), Noble House (1988 ), and The Joy Luck Club (1993).

Stan Lai (Lai Sheng-chuan) is a highly influential award-winning US born Taiwan based playwright and theatre director, also known for his award-winning feature films. A prolific author of 30 original performed plays to date and he has also written and directed two widely acclaimed feature films, The Peach Blossom Land (1992) and The Red Lotus Society (1994).

Xinyi Chen, is a well-known Chinese theatre director and playwright and has worked in the industry for over 60 years. She worked in Chinese opera, film, spoken drama in the early 30 years of her career and since then has concentrated on theatre playwriting and directing. She has directed more than 130 productions and has received numous awards across different stage genres from different authorities.

Professor Ruru Li, who chairs the panel, is Professor of Chinese Theatre Studies at University of Leeds, who has written extensively on Shakespeare performance in China and on modern and traditional theatre in China. Her most recent book is Staging China: New Theatres in the Twenty-First Century (ed.2016)

Lisa Lu and Dongtian Guan will perform a short 10 minute clip of the Chinese adapted version of The Gin Game, a Pulitzer Prize for Drama winner by Donald L. Coburn, also translated by Lisa.

Lisa Lu has a very special connection to the art of Peking Opera. Her mother was a well-known Peking Opera artist, and her godfather was Peking Opera master Mei Lanfang. In honour of Lisa's love of the art of Peking Opera, the renowned Peking Opera artist Yu Kuizhi and Li Shengsu, who is the most famous actress of Mei School, will present a short classic from Mei Lanfang The Emperor and the Concubine after the discussion.

Among other prominent audience members, the Ambassador to the UK, Ambassador Liu Xiaoming and his wife are special guests for the evening.

The workshop days are an exceptional opportunity to delve into the intriguing art world of Peking Opera and to take a cultural adventure into Chinese traditional artistic heritage with a world-class company:

Understanding Peking Opera Workshops

12 October, Oxford Ashmolean Museum

13 October, British Library

14 October, British Library

Understanding Peking Opera is a one-hour workshop on all the intricacies of the intriguing art of Peking Opera. The workshop, presented by the China National Peking Opera Company, looks in detail at the music, instruments, singing, costuming, make-up, characters and martial arts that performers dedicate their lives to and which makes this wonderful Chinese traditional artform so fascinating.

There will also be a performance by members of Chinese National Peking Opera of selected highlights revealing the beauty of this fascinating traditional art form and demonstrating how the magnificent costumes, dance movement, mime, music and drama combine to create a wonderful piece of theatre art; one of China's national treasures.

All this activity leads up to 3 performances at Sadler's Wells from one of the best Peking Opera companies in the World.

China National Peking Opera Company bring two of the world's finest exponents of the art form, the legendary stars Yu Kuizhi and Li Shengsu as part of a troupe of 65 performers who are set to fill the stage at Sadler's Wells with two spectacular shows over 19 and 20 October.

The Emperor and the Concubine is the beautiful love story championed by Peking Opera Master Mei Lanfang. This is one of the very few works from the master Mei Lanfang's that has been handed down since the 1920s. It showcases perfectly the masterful art of Peking Opera with its elegant and enchanting dance, song, music and drama and represents the outstanding features of Mei School.

On Saturday afternoon at 2.30pm the CNPOC showcase the spectacular mime, acrobatic and comedy skills of Peking Opera in a double bill of short mime and martial arts plays The Crossroads Inn & The Monkey King and The Leopard.

The Crossroad Inn, a short martial arts play, is famous for its humour and elaborate 'fight in the dark' scene. The second half of this double bill features the mythical folklore story of the legendary Monkey King and his buddies who seek justice for the villagers who are being bullied by the Evil Leopard Spirit. The story, underpinned by the traditional Chinese value of 'Praising the Virtue and Punishing the Vice', highlights the stunning acrobatic skills as the Monkey King and his friends battle the wicked Leopard Spirit.

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