Successful convocation of the second International Theatre Town Alliance Forum

2019-9-29 11:25:44

Spotlight on Integrated Development and Expressions of Operas in the World

Successful convocation of the second International Theatre Town Alliance Forum

From March 26 to 27, 2019, the second International Theatre Town Alliance Forum themed “Spotlight on Integrated Development and Expressions of Operas in the World” was successfully held.

The past year has seen alliance members engaged in thematic discussions on art performances with an academic background, actively conducting cultural exchanges, and promoting Yue Opera Town with distinctive features at the global stage.

This year’s forum saw council members express their views from their own perspectives. Mr. Levan Khetaguri, hailing from Georgia famous for its rich history of music and dance traditions, highlighted in his speech themed “From my/our identity memory to modern expression of performing arts” that identity memory is stored in traditions and arts in different countries, and intangible cultural heritage is also a living and evolving art form. In the eyes of Artur Ghukasyan, Director of High Fest International Performing Arts Festival in Armenia, festivals and cultural clusters could change a city, and festival celebrations may even change the look of a city and a nation. He put forth a concept “cultural livability”, which is equally important as economic development and ecological livability. Madam Alette Scavenius from Sweden believed that cultural diversity is as important as bio-diversity for humans, and development of operas in today’s world are extremely dependent on exchanges of ideas and views.

Centering on integration of Chinese opera and its global counterparts, senior journalist Ms. Pan Yu put forth the question of in what image Chinese opera should come onto the world opera stage. Mr. Cao Lusheng, famous playwright and Professor of Shanghai Theatre Academy, delivered a speech themed the right way to bring out the new from the old, in which he gave an overview of the history of Chinese opera by delving into the Research on Traditional Opera in Song and Yuan Dynasties by Mr. Wang Guowei, and placed special emphasis on Yue Opera. He believed that female xiaosheng in Yue Opera constitutes the backbone of female Yue opera, and the new way to develop Yue Opera is to give full play to the kunsheng in Yue Opera and learn from the Takarazuka model in Japan. Ms. Feng Jie, former Vice President and Creative Director of Zhejiang Xiaobaihua Yue Opera Troupe, gave her interpretation of integrated development and expressions by presenting the example of Ms. Mao Weitao, an outstanding kunsheng, and cross-cultural and cross-script works of art by director Guo Xiaonan, such as Coriolrectum and Du Liniang and the Good Woman of Jiangnan.

Other speakers at the forum included Ms. Patricia Liberati, Office of Culture of the Embassy of Italy, Mr. Constantin Chiriac, President of the Sibiu International Theatre Festival, Romania, Ms. Gordana Vnuk, Artistic Director of the Festival of New Theatre EUROKAZ, Croatia, Ms. Kalina Stefanova from the National Academy for Theatre and Film Arts, Bulgaria, Mr. Divya Bhatia, independent curator from India, Ms. Fan Jing, Vice President of Mega Event Center of China Arts and Entertainment Group Ltd, Ms. Wang Run, senior media professional and Ms. Guo Chenzi, Associate Professor from Shanghai Theatre Academy. They offered rich and colorful views by analyzing cross-cultural works, interpreting integration in the context of international art festivals, or examining relations between culture and tourism from the perspective of cultural exchanges.

Three new members were admitted in the council of the International Theatre Town Alliance. They were Ms. Zhao Chen, Deputy Editor-in-chief of China Culture Daily, Ms. Feng Jie, former Vice President and Creative Director of Zhejiang Xiaobaihua Yue Opera Troupe, and Mr. Divya Bhatia, independent curator from India.

In his concluding remarks, Director Guo Xiaonan highlighted that integration cannot be divorced from differences, development cannot be isolated from traditions, and expressions cannot be separated from innovation. Integration, in the final analysis, is about collision of differences. He also pointed out that appreciation does not mean acceptance; rather, appreciation is a way of communication, and more communication means more commitment. He emphasized that there is a wrong perception that Chinese opera should develop in sync with the rapid growth of China, integrate quickly with the world and even obtain discourse power, but the ground reality is not like this. He opposed both de-sinicization of artistic expression and imposition of the idea that this is Chinese culture and it is the best on others, as there is no best and each and every artistic expression by playwrights of different countries is the best. He thus stressed that we should know our position, cultural development should be independent, and we should allow it to move ahead without restraints and stay confident of our cause. He hoped that audience could be informed of the development of Yue Opera through advanced technologies and innovation, and we should focus on actions rather than words, in an effort to take this form of Opera forward and find its form of existence in this era and beyond. For the development of Yue Opera Town, he counseled that the key to its integration is exhibiting differences, and the key to its development is carrying forward traditions in new ways.

Besides presenting papers and addressing the forum, council members from different members watched a performance named “Intangible heritage is first in the world here in Zhejiang”, an intangible cultural heritage in Zhejiang Province. They were showcased performances of Wu Opera, Shao Opera, Ou Opera and Yue Opera, and visited newly-built Opera Fans Pavilion, Intangible Heritage Pavilion and Outdoor Performance Space, etc., leaving them with the expression that this is a cultural and tourism town with rich cultural elements and development potential. The Alliance still has much room for further improvement in some areas, and council members exchanged views on further cooperation in a candid manner. They were full of confidence about and made elaborate plans for the development of the Alliance in the following year.

Development of cultural and tourism towns are gathering steam. By taking the initiative in establishing “think-tanks” and searching for intellectual and academic resources, and connecting and conducting dialogues with the world, the Yue Opera Town has been able to make the International Theatre Town Alliance and the Forum and effective platform with far-reaching significance.


Group Photo of International Theatre Town Alliance Council Members