Six unmissable events at Nanluoguxiang Arts Festival

Troupes from across the globe descend on the capital for two-month celebration of theatre

Although the street itself may be a godforsaken tourist trap, Nanluoguxiang's arts festival is one of the city's best. Here are our picks for the top events on the bill over the two month celebration.

Youth Short Dances

Youth Short Dances (1)

Inspired by controversial writer, poet and film director Pier Paolo Pasolini, Youth Short Dances is the brainchild of Virgilio Sieni, a leading name in Italian contemporary dance. Dances builds on his earlier work, Cena Pasolini, which incorporates his research on working with amateur dancers, from children to senior citizens. Dances features 90 non-professionals and focuses on the ‘body’s occurrences’ that evoke a ‘forest of resonances and movements’. The piece is backed by the Giuseppe Savani Choir, which functions as a Greek Chorus and is a core part of Sieni’s ongoing project with non-professionals, called the ‘Art of the Gesture Academy’.

Ethnic Cultural Palace Theatre. 7.30pm, July 9. 2.30pm, July 10. 50 min. 80RMB.

Love's End

Love's End - Chinese version2

A couple end their relationship through long, duelling monologues, offering pointed attacks at deeply personal issues. Writer, choreographer and director Pascal Rambert claims he wrote for the actors’ physicality and that the language was tailored to the speaker, making this play a powerful experience when cast right. But love’s end can also mean a beginning; as indivduals they can start over, alone.

Penghao Theatre. 7.30pm, Tue 7-Thu 9. 2.30pm, Sun 12. 120min. 120RMB (Chinese version); 7.30pm, Fri 10-Sat 11. 2.30pm, Sat 11. 7.30pm, Sun 12. 120 min. 150RMB (French version). Chinese version with English subtitles; French version with Chinese subtitles.


Madagascar (2) (1)

Madagascar depicts the gathering of some of Lithuania’s greatest minds, all centred around Kazimieras Pakštas, a well-travelled geographer and public figure who tried to convince the government to purchase African land and set up Lithuanian colonies. The drama experiments with sounds and folk tales, and uses various symbolic devices to tell the story.

Oriental Palace (Longfu) Theatre. 7.30pm, July 12-14. 150 min. 150RMB. In Lithuanian; English and Chinese subtitles.

Flower and Bird: Butoh, a Way of Life

Flower and Butoh 2

Born in post-World War II Japan, Butoh was initially a rebellion against encroaching Western culture and the straight, finely honed bodies of Western-style dancers. Butoh founders Tatsumi Hijikata and Kazuo Ohno presented dance theatre with distorted bodies, depicting an elderly woman bent over in the wind or a child splashing in mud, thus creating an organic, natural beauty. Ohno, now deceased, was still performing at age 100, and his son Yoshito Ohno has advanced the Butoh tradition. His solo performance is backed by the seminal Butoh film, The Navel and the A-Bomb (2013), featuring footage of his father.

Penghao Theatre. 7.30pm, July 22-23. 2.30pm, July 24. 60 min. 150RMB. In Japanese; Chinese subtitles.

Stork's Gift

Stork-Gandro-dovana-2 (1)

In Lithuanian folk legend, birds mediate between heaven and earth. Ancient Lithuanians believed that the storks flew to heaven through the Milky Way carrying away the souls of the dead, along with diseases and general misfortune; then they fly back in the spring with clean souls and new beginnings. Backed by an exotic band, this familyfriendly, puppet-object story tells of Lithuanian mythology, and won the 2010 Golden Stage Cross award, Lithuanian’s highest stage honour.

Penghao Theatre. 10am and 7.30pm, Sat 18. 4pm, Sun 19. 40 min. 150RMB. In Lithuanian; English and Chinese subtitles.

The Feast of Dialects

Feast of Dialects (1)

Lithuanian theatre is a pillar of the seventh annual Nanluoguxiang festival, and The Feast of Dialects, which combines folk art with folktales, is one of the best. Using Lithuanian household carvings created by the 14-year-old great-grandson of nationally known folk artist Vladas Šiekštelė, four actors narrate local stories in local dialects. Look out for tales about a deceptive goat who tricked his owner, forest animals afraid that the sky will fall, and brothers competing to win the heart of a princess. A children’s show that works well for adults, the stories share a common motif – waiting for the rain.

Penghao Theatre. 1pm and 4pm, Sat 18. 7.30pm, Sun 19. 40 min. 150RMB. In Lithuanian; English and Chinese subtitles.

Beijing Nanluoguxiang Arts Festival runs from June 7 to August 31. Visit the Penghao Theatre website for the full programme of events.
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