Theater of life

By Chen Jie ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-10-27 07:42:37

Theater of life

Campanula Palace, in which Encore Wutai Mountain is staged, was built in the shape of seven-folding volumes of Buddhist classics. [Photo/China Daily]

An interactive entrance and everyman's quest for enlightment turn a play at Wutai Mountain into a journey of self-discovery, Chen Jie reports in Shanxi.

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People attending the ongoing show Encore Wutai Mountain can get lost as soon as they enter the theater. They don't walk into the auditorium—they walk into a winding space that evokes the bedroom of your childhood, the classroom of high school and the dormitory at college, with the repeated recordings of parents' reminders, teachers' words and conversations between first-time lovers.

At the end of the lane, audience members find themselves in a bustling community where all of those everyday scenes of life are acted out: trivial quarrels with a spouse, criticism from a boss, parents scolding kids or struggling to care for dying parents in a hospital.

When the lights come full on, the audience finds itself on the stage, surrounded by the settings and performers. Then they will be guided offstage into the auditorium.

"You walk through your life with hundreds of problems, and now you come to Wutai Mountain and wish the Buddha would give you some answers or inspiration," says director Wang Chaoge. That, she says, is the inspiration for the unexpected way of entering the show.

She says she came to the mountain last year with the question of how to create the show. She stayed there for about nine months, visiting many temples, reading the history and legends of the mountain, and asking head monks for advice. After putting in her own thoughts as well, she says people in the audience must now find their own answers from the show.

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