New talent rises to the occasion as festival spotlights youth

Updated: Nov 14, 2023 By Cheng Yuezhu China Daily Print
Share - WeChat
Audience members gather outside Wuzhen's West Warehouse Theater to watch a live broadcast of On Her Own. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Over the past decade, the Wuzhen Theater Festival in Jiaxing, Zhejiang province, has staged 161 plays written by young practitioners in its emerging theater artists' competition section.

Each year, the festival calls for submissions of original short plays featuring three elements. For this year's 10th edition, those elements are a railway ticket, a world famous painting, and a horse.

The committee received 573 submissions, 18 of which were shortlisted to compete.

This year's winners were announced at the festival's closing ceremony on Oct 29 at the Wuzhen Grand Theater.

The Special Attention Award was given to two plays, On Her Own and Merry-go-round, and Feng Li, an actress in the former, received the Most Outstanding Artist award.

"Her performance infused the character of a mother suffering from emotional trauma, with great depth, precise control and a well-balanced rhythm," the award citation stated.

The cast of Exit, winner of the Best Play award, perform at this year's emerging theater artists' competition. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The competition's top honor, the Best Play award, was presented to Exit, directed by Lu Zhen-yin, a young practitioner from Taiwan.

Lu entered the competition with another play and was shortlisted in 2019. But since then, she has faced a challenging period of financial hardship as a result of the pandemic.

"Thanks to the recognition I got from the judges and the audience at the time, I was able to persist in my theater career and continue moving the audience with my work," Lu says.

Huang Lei, co-founder and producing director of the festival, says that, having worked as a university teacher, he had a lot of ideas about art education and hoped to realize them by founding a theater festival for young artists.

With the festival in its 10th year as a platform for international theater troupes and young practitioners, Huang urges young people to never give up their dream, which might one day come to fruition.

"Since 2013, we've had more than 10,000 young people sign up for the emerging theater artists' competition. Carrying their own theater dreams, they have come to Wuzhen from different places," Huang says.

"Perhaps when the festival reaches its 20th or 30th edition, its new artistic director will say, 'I was once one of those young people who participated in the emerging theater artists' competition.'"

Themed "Arise", this year's festival ran from Oct 19 to 29. Apart from the 18 shortlisted plays, it featured 28 domestic and international productions with 87 performances, and some 2,000 outdoor carnival performances on squares and street corners around Wuzhen.

In the Wuzhen Dialogues section, 12 panel discussions were hosted, engaging theater practitioners and experts in conversations about contemporary trends in Chinese and international theater, as well as popular topics including productions adapted from literature, the relationship between audiences and the theater, as well as cross-disciplinary productions.

Visitors could also attend 12 theater workshops, 27 reading sessions, six exhibitions, markets and live music performances.

At the closing ceremony, it was announced that next year's Wuzhen Theater Festival will take place from Oct 17 to 27, under the theme of "Solidity".

"I hope that the Wuzhen Theater Festival becomes more diverse and refined in the future, a global celebration and a cultural emblem of China," says Chen Xianghong, co-founder and festival chairman.

"By leveraging cultural events — for example, those hosted at the Muxin Art Museum and the contemporary art exhibitions — we aim to attract different styles of theater to Wuzhen, as well as the vital forces leading China's theater art scene, so that the festival gains greater recognition."

Copyright©2024 China Daily. All rights reserved.


京公网安备 11010502032503号 京公网安备 11010502032503号