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
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
Ethnic Cultural Palace Theatre. 7.30pm,
July 9. 2.30pm, July 10. 50 min. 80RMB.
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 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
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
Penghao Theatre. 7.30pm, July 22-23.
2.30pm, July 24. 60 min. 150RMB. In Japanese; Chinese subtitles.
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
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