Pudong comes alive with festival of culture and art

Li Qian
Pudong will raise the curtain on its annual cultural extravaganza on July 30, becoming the first district to stage a large public cultural event in the wake of the epidemic.
Li Qian
Pudong comes alive with festival of culture and art
Ti Gong

Doctor Zhao Yunfeng (second from right) from Punan Hospital, who worked in Wuhan, with his presentation admission to an award-winning dance drama.

Pudong comes alive with festival of culture and art
Li Qian / SHINE

A rendition on a pipa.

Pudong will raise the curtain on its annual cultural extravaganza on July 30, becoming the first district in the city to stage a large public cultural event in the wake of the novel coronavirus epidemic.

The three-month Pudong Festival of Culture and Art feast will feature a selection of 24 productions with 43 performances, including classic operas, popular stage plays and award-winning dance dramas at ten of Pudong’s cultural venues by internationally-acclaimed theater groups as well as grassroots centers. 

“It’s so great to return to the stage,” said Peking Opera artist Shi Yihong, who will present masterpieces by Mei Lanfang and Cheng Yanqiu. “Confined at home, we practiced alone or hosted online shows. Livestreaming is good, but it can’t compare to the live stage. We are eager to perform right in front of our fans.”

The city’s performing arts sector returned on May 29, after a five-month standstill. But some theaters chose to remain closed to hedge business losses caused by the limited seating capacity of only 30 percent. 

“This festival, especially with the help of Pudong’s theaters, really cheers artists up and gives the market a shot in the arm," said Huang Wei, director of Pudong’s culture, tourism and sports bureau. “Also, it relieves the thirst of audiences who are becoming tired of in-home entertainment and want a colorful cultural life.

“It’s a cultural feast for the public, and thus we just stage what people like. The playlist is decided based on big data analysis of previous ticketing. These productions have been so popular that tickets quickly sold out in previous performances.”

“The Unfailing Radio Wave,” adapted from the 1958 classic movie of the same title, tells the story a Communist who worked undercover in the Japanese intelligence bureau during the Japanese invasion. He kept sending useful information by telegram for 12 years, until he was arrested and executed just before Shanghai was liberated in 1949.

Stage play “Garden of the Jin’s", about two Shanghai ladies’ intertwined fates over 60 years, Shanghai farce “First Priority”, about the city’s one-year garbage sorting drive, and talk show “The young living in Shanghai” by local comedians allow audiences to savor the charm of haipai culture.

Viral star Fang Jinlong will be another highlight in the festival.

The folk musician became an Internet sensation for playing modern tunes, from hip hop, country music to anime OST, with an array of traditional instruments at Bilibili’s New Year’s Eve concert, attracting more than 80 million real-time viewers.

“I will present more than just a concert. It’s also my talk show. Audiences can enjoy music and learn stories behind the different instruments,” Fang said. “Folk music has been away from young people for long time. I found it a key to reach them by understanding what they like.”

Fang said he has collected thousands of traditional instruments. Despite all the different instruments and different music, the world is truly a community of common destiny for all mankind, he said.

“Ancient plucked stringed instruments originated from the Mesopotamia evolved into the pipa in China, guitar in Spain and sitar in India,” he said. 

That’s why he’s able to play tunes composed for the guitar and sitar on the pipa.

Despite of the captivating playlist, the tickets are affordable for most people.

“We will sell a total of 10,000 tickets, and half will be priced between 20 (US$2.86) and 80 yuan, 6 to 9 times lower than market prices,” said Nie Ying, a Pudong's cultural official. “Previously, only Pudong residents can enjoy such bargains. But this year, we will extend it to audiences across the country.”

Local authorities will also buy 3,000 tickets for medical staff who helped in the front line in the fight against the coronavirus.

Though seats are limited, there will be hundreds of cultural activities held online,  on Bilibili and Douyin (or TikTok), as well as in open-air venues, like parks and shopping malls.

“We encourage people to show their talent and be part of the performances," said Wang Xichang, director of Pudong’s art guide center. "We will hold a variety of cultural competitions like singing, dancing, storytelling and pipa playing."

Huang added: “Pudong will be brimmed with art and culture for three months with involvement of everyone, in theaters, on road sides and on the Internet."

Special Reports