Anti-opium hero's story of fearless spirit told in play
Patriotic-themed play "Lin Zexu" is making its Shanghai debut at Shanghai Culture Square on August 18-19.
Jointly produced by the National Center For The Performing Arts and Guangzhou Drama Art Center, the play's cast involves a group of famed domestic actors like Pu Cunxin, Hong Tao, Guo Da and Peking Opera artist Guan Dongtian.
Premiered in Beijing in 2019, the play centers on the story of Chinese scholar and Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) official Lin Zexu (1785-1850), who was sent by the emperor to Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, to stop the illegal importation of opium from Britain in 1838.
Lin launched the destruction of opium stocks in port town Humen in June, 1839. About 1,400 tons of opium, confiscated from foreign traders, were destroyed in 23 days, and the incident triggered the First Opium War.
Veteran actor Pu Cunxin plays the lead role of Lin.
"He is a failed hero, a man with poetic pursuit and vision," said Pu. "The way he spends his life can inspire the audience and give them strength."
As an advocate for hardline policies and the anti-drugs movement, Lin has become known as an anti-opium hero, a symbol of China's resistance to imperialism.
In 1850, Lin died at the age of 65 on the way to help put down the Taiping Rebellion, a revolt against the Qing emperor's ruling that caused social upheaval on the southern banks of the Yangtze River.
Director Wang Xiaodi said she wanted to highlight the greatness of individual spirit and choice through the play.
"The choice of every single character on the stage could have decided the fate of the country," she said. "They are not ordinary people. It's a play about greatness, courage, weakness and choice."
The play involves dance pieces choreographed by dancer Huang Doudou to showcase the battle scenes. Chinese composer Zhao Jiping, who has penned scores for famed director Zhang Yimou's films, wrote the music for the play.
Date: August 18-19, 7:30pm
Tickets: 180-980 yuan
Venue: Shanghai Culture Square
Address: 597 Fuxing Road M.