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Touching Shaanxi play staged in Beijing

By CHEN NAN | China Daily | Updated: 2024-05-18 08:13
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An original Chinese play about a rags-to-riches family, Mianpi, which is named after one of the most popular local dishes of Shaanxi province, will be staged by Baoji Art Theatre at the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing on Sunday and Monday.

The noodle-like Chinese offering — made from wheat or rice flour — is usually served with garlic and hot chili oil, and has a large fan base in Shaanxi.

The play, commissioned by the Bureau of Culture and Tourism of Baoji, Shaanxi, tells the story of Wang Rangguo, a local villager in Baoji, who makes and sells mianpi. The delicious food and Wang's cooking techniques have won him lots of devoted consumers.

Despite many difficulties, such as Wang's declining health condition and business distress, he makes a living with his mianpi-making efforts and offers his two sons financial support to go to college. After his sons graduated from college, they returned to the village to develop the mianpi business through e-commerce, thus expanding the fan base of the local food nationwide.

"The Chinese play is set against the backdrop of rural China during the 1970s, which depicts the development of the country through one single family," says the play's director Jiang Tao, who is a professor at the Central Academy of Drama.

The play was written by scriptwriter Zhang Ji, who spent five years working on the script, and Wu Jing'an plays the leading role, Wang. It premiered in 2023 and won the "Wenhua Award" at the Tenth Shaanxi Provincial Arts Festival the same year.

"I was born and grew up in Baoji, a land which I am deeply in love with. From the place's lovely people to the culinary traditions, I am inspired," Zhang said. "The play spans over 40 years and I want to dedicate it to my hometown."

On Friday, the Baoji city government launched an event in Beijing to promote tourism in the ancient city, which, according to She Junchen, vice-mayor of Baoji, has a history of over 2,700 years and is known for its local dishes, folk arts and crafts and natural sceneries.

"Regional differences in Chinese cuisine are very diverse from region to region. For people in Baoji, mianpi is one of our favorites and brings back lots of childhood memories," She said."A lot of tourists come to Shaanxi to taste a diversity of local foods. We want them to know more about Baoji by watching this Chinese play while tasting delicious mianpi."

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