Classic drama taken to stage with fresh look

2009-12-15 13:36 BJT


A timeless Beijing drama has been injected with new life, and is once again performing to a packed theater. "The No.1 Restaurant in China" is a repertoire of the Beijing People's Art Theater and debuted in 1988. Now, more than 2-decades on, a group of young students from the Central Academy of Drama take the stage in Beijing, reinterpreting the classic piece with their own understanding.

Set during a period from 1910s to 1920s, "The No.1 Restaurant in China" centers on the ups and downs of the time-honored brand "Fu Ju De", a restaurant selling roast ducks. Restaurant boss Lu Mengshi, is of a humble birth. He does his best, tirelessly putting his heart and mind into the business. But it ends in tragedy.

Gu Haoran, student of The Central Academy of Drama, said, "Our teachers took us to the dining businesses at the early stage of our rehearsal. We were interns in various restaurants, taking orders from diners and even writing out bills. We've also read a lot of books to get to know more about people in that period of time."

This group of students, in their early twenties, have mastered the spirits of their on-stage characters well... from their voices, to body language and gestures. But they have also altered the role of their predecessors, by incorporating their own understanding and fresh ideas.

Zhang hangrui, student of The Central Academy of Drama, said, "Of course my performing experience is far less than the senior generation of artists of Beijing People's Art Theater. But I've tried my best to complement the role I play with my own understanding."

"The No.1 Restaurant in China" debuted in 1988 and is saturated with the unique flavor of the Beijing lifestyle. It's become one of the signature programmes of the Beijing People's Art Theater. One of the show's directors, Gu Wei, won a statuette for the drama at the Splendor Awards in 1991. The reprised version is directed by Liu Tianchi, who's been vigorous on the scene of stage performances in recent years.

Liu Tianchi, teacher of The Central Academy of Drama, said, "We're standing on the shoulder of masters of the past generation. This version is more powerful and energetic, with our own individual style. You've got to have your own stuff to pull in more people."

The reprised "The No.1 Restaurant in China" has been performing at the North Theater, in the Beibingmasi Alley in Beijing for the past ten days. The show was so warmly welcomed that even aisles of the theater were packed with audience members who couldn't snatch a ticket.

Editor: Liu Fang | Source: