MEISHAN, CHINA – Media OutReach Newswire – 12 March 2024 – In March 2024, an unprecedented visual feast will take place inside the Kennedy Center in DC and David H. Koch Theater in New York City’s Lincoln Center. There will be eight shows of the modern musical Dongpo: Life in Poems, a joint effort between the China Oriental Performing Arts Group Co., Ltd. and the MeiShan Song and Dance Theatre in this round of debut in the U.S. Using unique perspectives and innovative forms of expression, the production aims to showcase to the world the profundity and charms of traditional Chinese culture.

New Yorkers treated to the US theatre debut of Modern Musical Dongpo: Life in Poems
Modern Musical Dongpo: Life in Poems

The creative core of Dongpo: Life in Poems revolves around the story of venerated luminary Su Shi (1037-1101). Also known by the name Su Dongpo, not only was he the pride of Meizhou (present-day Meishan of Sichuan Province), but also one of the most respected and accomplished writers and poets in Chinese history. Known for his positive and liberal spirit, and unwavering mentality, Su Dongpo became the only Chinese on the list of “Heroes of the Millennium” published by France’s Le Monde. Incorporating a diverse range of art forms from modern choreography and guqin music, to poetry, calligraphy, painting and carving, this production fully presents the inner world and emotions of Su Dongpo.

Stage photo of Dongpo: Life in Poems
Stage photo of Dongpo: Life in Poems

Internationally recognized producer, director, choreographer, painter and visual artist Shen Wei takes the helm on this production in multiple roles. He cleverly melds the words from 12 of Su Dongpo’s poems and proses into every dance movement and musical note, presenting an artistic dialogue that transcends time and space. After 20 months of meticulous polishing and 19 modifications, the final outcome has received critical acclaim. Shen Wei remarked: “The creative process of Dongpo: Life in Poems was an in-depth exploration of ancient culture, and at the same time an innovative experiment in using modern artistic methods to reiterate traditional Chinese culture.”

Stage photo of Dongpo: Life in Poems
Stage photo of Dongpo: Life in Poems

The stagecraft of Dongpo: Life in Poems is breathtaking. Rather than directly showing Su Dongpo’s personal life, the goal is to rely on artistic sophistication to foster a poetic ambience where “Dongpo can’t be seen but Dongpo is everywhere.” This kind of artistic expression that fuses traditional and contemporary elements, the East and the West, will bring to the American audience an artistic experience unlike any other.

The picture shows the Meishan Sansu Temple (meaning three Sus), which is the former residence of the famous literary masters, Su Xun and his two sons, Su Shi and Su Zhe of the Northern Song Dynasty in China. The temple houses tens of thousands of cultural relics and documents and was rated as a World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in 2018, making it one of the best places to experience traditional Chinese culture

Furthermore, the production also represents a gathering of some of the top artists from both China and overseas. Other than Shen Wei, the team includes the likes of renowned Chinese-French composer Chen Qigang, national grade I scriptwriter Guo Changhong, lighting designer for the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games Xiao Lihe, and Deputy Director of the China Calligraphy Institute Yang Tao, among other heavyweights. Their expertise and experience have furnished this production with choreography, music, scripting, lighting and calligraphy of remarkable quality.

This round of debut in the U.S. has received tremendous support from the “Image China” brand. Since inception in 2009, “Image China” has been responsible for a large number of Chinese performances that have garnered widespread acclaim. This round of Dongpo: Life in Poems shows in the U.S. will be undertaken in cooperation with the American Dance Festival, and present to the American audience a modern musical masterpiece featuring Chinese aesthetics.

As the debut performances draw near, the Kennedy Center in DC and David H. Koch Theater in New York City’s Lincoln Center are making final preparations. No doubt the audiences have a lot to look forward to, and they expect to savor the charms and colors of traditional Chinese culture on stage.

It has been known that Dongpo: Life in Poems will also tour in France and the Hong Kong and Macao regions in 2024. As the birthplace of Su Dongpo, the city of Meishan will also capitalize on the opportunities of these tours by using both online and on-site methods to introduce to the world the city’s wonderful array of cultural resources, ecology, sceneries, gastronomy and intangible cultural heritages.

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