Xiqu Centre Original Production: Experimental Cantonese Opera “Wenguang Explores the Valley”
A contemporary retelling of a classic warrior tale based on the stories of the legendary Yang family generals
This adaptation combines traditional and new set pieces, digital backdrops and other modern theatre technology to illustrate the preservation and innovation of Cantonese opera in the modern era.
The Xiqu Centre’s second experimental Cantonese opera production premiered in 2019 in Beijing, and was awarded Best Play in the Contemporary Small Theatre (Xiqu category) at the 2019 Beijing New Arts and Culture Outstanding Theatre Showcase series, in which Keith Lai was also awarded Best Actor.
Yang Wenguang hails from a family of legendary warriors. But a dream about his renowned ancestor, and a failed attempt to rescue his father from enemy hands, cause him to doubt his ability to master the martial arts skills of his ancestors. When a manservant reveals that the key to honouring his family’s legacy lies not in study but within his heart, Wenguang finds the strength to fight on.
This original production retains the essence and vitality of traditional Cantonese opera in ways that are meaningful and inspiring for contemporary creation.
── Wang Kui, Head of Institute of Xiqu, Chinese National Academy of Arts
A powerful performance, and a well-deserved Best Actor win for Keith Lai.
── Pak Yiu-charn, Hong Kong theatre artist
Artistic and Production Team
Producer / Director: Naomi Chung*
Playwright / Director / Music Arranger: Keith Lai, Janet Wong
Cast: Keith Lai, Janet Wong, Ng Lap-hei, Shum Pak-chuen
Technical Director: Rae Wu*
Set Designer: Wong Yat-kwan
Lighting Designer: Leo Siu
Sound Designer: Anthony Yeung
Video Designer: Dan Fong
Assistant Producer: Peter Lee*
Production Manager: Christina Choi*, Katrina Chan*
Keith Lai as Yang Jiye / Yang Zongbao
Janet Wong as Yang Qiniang (Du Jiner)
Ng Lap-hei as Yang Wenguang
Shum Pak-chuen as Yang Hong / Wang Wen
Ensemble Leader: Share Ka-lok
Percussion Ensemble Leader: Chan Ting-pong
*Staff of West Kowloon Cultural District
the Xiqu Centre
The mission of the Xiqu Centre is to preserve, promote and develop the art of Chinese traditional theatre, to nurture the local form of Cantonese opera and to promote other forms of xiqu. To advance the legacies and traditions of Chinese traditional theatre we support artists to create new works and help nurture a new generation of local performers and musicians, including working with emerging local talent and offering guidance and performance opportunities to our resident Rising Stars Tea House Troupe. Through performances, creation, education, research and exchange, we aim to expand the audience base for Chinese opera and create a new platform for the contemporary development of the art form.
Concept / Genre
Following on from the Xiqu Centre’s first experimental Cantonese opera production – Farewell My Concubine (New Adaptation), a contemporary reinterpretation of a traditional classic showcasing the evolution of Cantonese opera – this second production, Wenguang Explores the Valley, reinterprets a classic warrior legend as a contemplation of the preservation and innovation of Cantonese opera in the modern era.
Retaining the original plot structure and a number of set pieces – including “The Great Battle”, “The Besieged Valley”, and the classic song “Yang Jiye Crashes into the Stone Tablet” – the work also incorporates several new scenes, such as a pivotal act where the late general Yang Jiye appears to his grandson Wenguang in a dream. As well as the addition of original script, the production replaces traditional backdrops with digital projections – both realistic and abstract, static and animated – offering a multi-layered illusory element to the settings and battle scenes. In one newly created scene, a key character moves among the audience to find an important book, reminding spectators that the things we seek are often right there beside us.
Based on the historic legends of the Yang family generals, the story opens with protagonist Wenguang contemplating the past glories and defeats of his clan – an analogy for the legacy of Cantonese opera. Then, through scenes of past Yang battles and debates between influential figures, the production contemplates the value and meaning of ancient traditions for our modern age, turning a classic tale of bravery and heroism into an exploration of cultural legacy.
Originating in the Guangzhou region of southern China, Cantonese opera is a genre of Chinese traditional theatre that is popular in Guangdong, Guangxi, Hong Kong and Macau, as well as the Chinese diaspora in Southeast Asia, America and Europe. The singing style adopts elements of bangzi and erhuang (traditional vocal and phrasing styles), and combines tunes of various origins, including set tunes from gaoqiang (high-pitched) and Kunqu genres and elements of folk narrative singing. Cantonese opera was inscribed onto the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009.
|Date||6/10/2021 - 12/10/2021|
|Time||16:00 - 15:59|
Studio 1, Xiqu Centre
West Kowloon Cultural District
West Kowloon, Tsim Sha Tsui
|West Kowloon Cultural District 西九文化區|
|Event Link||Click Here|
|Last Updated||16/9/2021 13:01|