A modern twist of art to 'Butterfly Lovers'

Zhang Qian
Hong Kong director Edward Lam will come to SAIC Shanghai Culture Square on March 23-24 with his latest offering "Art School Musical."
Zhang Qian

Hong Kong director Edward Lam has always  been inspired by recreating classical Chinese fiction in a modern context. And he does just that with his latest offering “Art School Musical,” which comes to SAIC Shanghai Culture Square on March 23-24.

With Chen Chien-Ci providing the music, Lam directs a story based on “The Butterfly Lovers.” The classical Chinese play tells a tragic tale of two lovers, Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai, set in the Eastern Jin Dynasty (AD 265–420).

The memory is still fresh in Lam, who first  saw the movie “The Butterfly Lovers” in 1974. He was deeply touched on how Zhu Yingtai overcame difficulties in her life because of her gender.

“Zhu was granted permission by her parents  to go to school dressed as a boy. Today, no girls would be dressed like boys for school. Then, what obstacle will be put in her way? Probably a major that their parents dislike, such as — art,” says Lam.

Therefore, Lam’s new story is set in an art school in modern times.

Everybody in the school is dressed in an apron, which is a kind of skirt in Lam’s view that blurs the gender barrier between men and women, just like how Zhu dressed in a man’s attire in the classic version.

In the art school, the students do not just learn art skills, more importantly, they learn to live up to the ideal of themselves regardless of the social bias.

Lam’s theme song “Have you ever cried in an art gallery?” is sung by the modern characters to resonate with the famous scene of Zhu crying at Liang’s grave before they both became butterflies.

“It is interesting that I see a lot of similarity between a grave and an art gallery. Many artworks in a museum were created by the dead, and people visiting a gallery is like visiting a  grave in many respects,” says Lam.

Hopefully Lam’s musical will be an interesting decoding game for audiences who are very familiar with the classic version of “Butterfly Lovers” as they may find some scenes new yet familiar.

A modern twist of art to 'Butterfly Lovers'
Ti Gong

Everybody in the school is dressed in an apron, which is a kind of skirt in Lam’s view that blurs the gender barrier between men and women.

Performance details

Date: March 23-24, 7:30pm
Tickets: 80-480 yuan
Tel: 6472-9000, 6472-6000
Venue: SAIC Shanghai Culture Square
Address: 597 Fuxing Rd. M

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