Chinese acts get rave reviews at The Fringe

By ANGUS McNEICE | China Daily UK | Updated: 2017-08-07 18:19

Chinese acts get rave reviews at The Fringe

Fang Jinlong plays the pipa. [Photo / China Daily]

A diverse array of contemporary and traditional Chinese productions entertained audiences in Scotland's capital on the weekend, as Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017 opened its doors.

China Focus, a collection of eight acts, debuted at the festival, and a dozen other independent performers also represented the country at this year's event, which is one of the world's largest arts festivals.

This year's Festival Fringe involves 3,398 shows from 62 countries, in venues throughout Edinburgh and will continue all month.

Shona McCarthy, chief executive of the Festival Fringe Society, said: "We hope this is the start of a major collaboration with China at The Fringe. We want to see more Chinese work in 2018 and beyond."

Major Chinese performing arts companies, including the National Theater of China, the Shanghai Dramatic Arts Center, and the Shanghai Academy of Drama, are taking part.

Xiang Xiaowei, cultural counselor at the Chinese embassy, said China Focus will be an annual feature, marking a "new chapter in cultural relations" between China and the UK.

"The China Focus series will become an icon of Chinese culture at The Fringe in the future and will further enrich cultural exchange during the 'golden era' of China-UK relations," he said.

On Sunday at The Grand, the audience witnessed one highlight of the China Focus program - The Dreamer. The collaboration between UK theater company Gecko and the Shanghai Dramatic Arts Center has already racked up several four-star ratings from festival reviewers. The production draws inspiration from William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream and Tang Xianzu's Peony Pavilion.

While the dialogue is in Mandarin, non-Chinese speakers can follow, through the actors' physicality. The immaculate set design, lighting and live violin all impress.

On Saturday evening, a sold-out crowd of more than 500 packed into Edinburgh's Assembly Hall to watch China Goes Pop, featuring the Shandong Acrobatic Troupe and the China Arts Entertainment Group.

Some of China's most talented jugglers, contortionists, aerial silk specialists and acrobats performed to recent pop smash hits. The show was named one of Edinburgh-based reviewer The List's top circus acts for this year.

China Goes Pop is directed by Shanda Sawyer, who is known for the stage production of The Marvel Universe.

The Shanghai Theater Academy's Peking opera The Boor, The National Theater of China's Luocha Land, and New City, New Sound by Shenzhen's Alliance Art Group, all opened on the weekend.

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