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Beauty and the Beast will be performed by Quangzhou Gaojia Opera Company in collaboration with Shanghai Theatre Academy.

Drama department hosts performance of Beauty and the Beast by Quangzhou Gaojia Opera Company in collaboration with Shanghai Theatre Academy.

Cariad Astles, Associate Lecturer in Drama, set up the visit in collaboration with collegaues at Shanghai Theatre Academy and Performance Infinity Arts. The production is an experimental combination of forms.

Cariad explains, “The drama department at Exeter is in the process of developing an exchange agreement with Shanghai Theatre Academy and this visit, which is a collaboration between the Theatre Academy and a professional Chinese opera company, is, we hope, the first of many cultural exchanges and visits.

“In the globalised age, collaborations between cultures and forms to explore new identities, performance forms and dialogues are increasingly important; these are rich responses to cultural encounters. This performance represents an experiment between different Chinese performance forms and we are very excited to be hosting it."

Gaojia opera has been active in Fujian for almost 300 years. It has borrowed freely from local ballads and folk art to develop a colourful and lighthearted style. From traditional puppetry theatre, Gaojia opera has adapted a way of walking and the performing style of circus clowns. It was this that inspired Guo Yu, director of the play, to integrate puppetry into the production of Beauty and the Beast.

In the show, the Beast is portrayed by Huang Zhihe, a Gaojia opera singer, while his original image, the handsome prince, mounts the stage as a life-size puppet. The household items, which are transformed from domestic helpers by the witch, are also presented as puppets operated by the opera singers.

Catherine Dawson, Partnership Manager for the College of Humanities, comments, “Shanghai Theatre Academy is an outstanding comprehensive university of performing and digital arts, fine arts, and visual cultures, with particular research strength in Chinese Theatre Studies. We are delighted to welcome them to the College of Humanities. The opportunities that will be offered to students through our prospective exchange agreement are tremendously exciting and we look forward to building on these collaborations in the future.”


Date: 28 April 2015

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