Home / Culture / Music and Theater

All Wuzhen's a stage

By Dominic Morgan | China Daily | Updated: 2016-11-17 07:28

All Wuzhen's a stage

Martin Jacques, lead actor of The Tiger Lillies Perform Hamlet. Photo by Wang Jia/For China Daily

The West Scenic Area is often described as a beautifully restored slice of ancient China. But Chen's challenge was to re-create the town's past in a way that appealed to the country's modern youth. In a recent interview, he called it "putting new wine into an old bottle".

The interiors of every building in the West Scenic Area were fitted with modern amenities and free internet. Meanwhile, everything outside the buildings was transformed into a picture-perfect vision of an ancient water town.

Modern buildings in the area were torn down, and Wuzhen rebuilt the rest using traditional materials salvaged from the wreckage of Shanghai's demolished old neighborhoods.

A new filtration and purification system keeps the area's canals a perfect shade of jade-green, and modern boats were banned. Even garbage is now transported on traditional-style wooden gondolas.

Finally, the West Scenic Area was isolated from the more ramshackle town outside by high whitewashed walls, enabling Wuzhen to charge a 100-yuan entrance fee, but also heightening the sense visitors have inside the area that they have somehow entered a parallel reality.

The festival's slogan plastered all over the West Scenic Area's entranceway-"beyond the real, all Wuzhen's a stage"-is almost literal.

The festival fits seamlessly into this setting, its 156 daily street performances like small plays within a larger play.

"The festival is not a traditional thing. It is a way of cultivating sentiment," says Qiu.

For 10 days in October, all Wuzhen really is a stage.

Editor's picks
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349