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C4鈥?Jing鈥檃n                                                                                                            Tuesday 26 September 2017鈥?Shanghai Daily

A stage to make Chinese opera more accessible

Li Qian                                               Emperor Tang Minghuang (AD 685-762), who             Zhang Jun explains the lyrics of a Kunqu Opera classic during a
                                                      mourned for his dead concubine Yang Yuhuan.          special show this month at Jing鈥檃n Cultural Center to promote the
In Shakespeare鈥檚 comedy 鈥淎s You Like It,鈥?the         Before singing, he spent more than half an hour      600-year-old art form. 鈥?Jiang Xiaowei
     character Jaques proclaims: 鈥淎ll the world鈥檚     explaining to the audience the poetic lyrics,
     a stage, and all the men and women are           music and related allusions.
     merely players.鈥?Zhang Jun, a Kunqu Opera
artist, would agree as long as he could perform          鈥淚t is a great way to have Kunqu approach
on an intimate small stage setting.                   youngsters,鈥?he said. 鈥淜unqu originated from
                                                      ancient poetry 颅鈥斅?the consummation of China鈥檚
   The 43-year-old artist has spent the last sev-     traditional art. The beauty of our mother tongue
eral years performing at grand theaters at both       is deep inside all of us, whatever vicissitudes. It
home and abroad. But his love for the small           can be awakened by poems and Kunqu.鈥?stage never diminishes.
                                                         Zhang believes the opportunity to engage in
   This month Zhang presented a special show          dialogue with the audience is just as important
in the 199-seat theater of Jing鈥檃n Cultural Cen-      as the performance itself and is in no hurry to
ter. He loves the way he becomes one with the         begin singing after it. The same can be said
theater, performing with a united and forceful        about the show鈥檚 interval. He believes the in-
energy.                                               terval is not just a short break, but a golden
                                                      chance for the audience to make friends and
   He confessed it was 鈥減articularly satisfying.      exchange ideas.
In the small theater, we are close. We are face to
face, and we can feel each other clearly. I can feel     鈥淭he interval is an interesting time,鈥?he said.
the whole theater is gripped by the atmosphere        鈥淒ifferent people come to the show yet share
that I create.鈥?                                      the same hobby and that is why I arrange a tea
                                                      time to talk.
   The month-long show is, in fact, a mixture
of lecture, communication and performance                鈥淜unqu itself is a lifestyle in the Ming Dynasty
designed to popularize the 600-year-old art           (1368-1644). The audience hear my explanation,
form.                                                 drink tea and enjoy my performance. They can
                                                      be easily immersed in a poetic lifestyle. And I
   Zhang performed the act 鈥淐rying to the Stat-       am so proud that the majority of audience today
ue鈥?from the Kunqu Opera classic 鈥淭he Palace of       are young people.鈥?Eternal Youth鈥?in his first show. He also played
                                                         Widely known in China as the Prince of Kunqu
Zhang plays Emperor Minghuang (AD 685-762)            Opera, Zhang is also a member of UNESCO Art-
of the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-709) in the Kunqu         ists for Peace. The challenge for Zhang now is
Opera classic 鈥淭he Palace of Eternal Youth.鈥?         to promote Kunqu to foreigners. He has tried
鈥?Jiang Xiaowei                                       several different ways. He has tried to sing
                                                      Kunqu in jazz and also attempted to blend it
                                                      with Western classics.

                                                         鈥淚, Hamlet,鈥?which premiered last year, is his
                                                      latest effort.

                                                         鈥淚 had a worldwide tour from the US, the UK
                                                      to France. People like it,鈥?Zhang said. 鈥淭hey are
                                                      too familiar with the story, but it鈥檚 a brand-new
                                                      way to interpret it, with Chinese philosophy. I
                                                      sing in Chinese and English. In fact, I want to
                                                      go further. Next year, I will have a campus tour
                                                      in New York.鈥?
                                                         Zhang鈥檚 passion for his art shines throughout.
                                                      Don鈥檛 miss an innovative performance from a
                                                      truly unique man taking an ancient Chinese art
                                                      form to the masses.

Newsclickers                                                                                                           Communitystar

                                          Kids reading event                                                           Gu Chao

New charity shop opens                       Nearly 30 children from China      More boulevard                            Gu Chao, goalkeeper       watching movie are just two
                                          and Hungary took part in a read-      roads named                            of Jiangsu Suning football   examples.
   A new community-based charity          ing event earlier this month at the                                          team, has been named as
store opened this month on Jiangning      Jing鈥檃n Children鈥檚 Library.              Tree-lined Beijing Road W.          ambassador of good man-         鈥淛ing鈥檃n has about
Road.                                                                           and Yangquan Road in Jing鈥檃n           ners by his hometown of      500,000 white-collar work-
                                             Li Jingjing, co-founder of the     are among the 24 newly-named           Jing鈥檃n.                     ers and 200 office buildings.
   The store, at 916 Jiangning Road,      Oriental Danology Institute, read     boulevards by the city鈥檚 greenery                                   Many of them have good
is the second street store opened by      the Chinese classic folktale 鈥淔isher  authority.                                In a promotional video,   manners but some just
online charity shop Buy42 in Shanghai.    Boy,鈥?a story of how a boy born                                              Gu, playing a white-collar   don鈥檛 know how to behave
Described as the flagship store, it cov-  from a bowl on the sea helps good        The Beijing Road W. features        worker, shows how to be-     the right way,鈥?Gu said.
ers nearly 400 square meters. Almost      people and punishes bad people.       plane trees, and Yangquan Road is      have well in public venues
90 percent of the goods, from clothes                                           covered by a line of camphor trees.    and the workplace. Not          鈥淔or myself, I learn from it,
to accessories and toys to home ap-          The other organizer of the event,  It requires more than 90 percent of    pushing others when taking   and I hope others can also
pliances, are brand new, donated by       Livia Ilona Szentmartoni, counsel     green coverage of sidewalks to be      the elevator and not talk-   learn and gradually become
companies such as Internet giant Ali-     of Consulate General of Hungary       a boulevard.                           ing or taking pictures when  advocate for good manner,鈥?baba, high-street brand Zara and the      in Shanghai, told the widely-known                                                                        he added.
Groupon website Pinduoduo.                fairy tale 鈥淎z 茅gig茅r paszuly,鈥?com-     So far, Shanghai has named 198
                                          monly known as 鈥淛ack and the          boulevards, and Jing鈥檃n has 19. Au-
   The first shop opened in June at       Beanstalk.鈥?She said she hopes to     tumn is a great season for people
1132 Xinzha Road and has started          encourage children to explore the     to walk on the falling leaves, ponder
to make a profit. There will be a third   world.                                over things in roadside seats or
store opening soon in the Daning area.                                          have a cup of coffee in caf茅.
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