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Modernity in Tradition, Tradition in Modernity: The Contemporary Legend Theatre from Taiwan

Demonstrations & a lecture

Tuesday, May 08, 2007
7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
121 Dodd Hall
UCLA
Los Angeles, CA 90095

The Contemporary Legend Theatre (CLT; 當代傳奇), one of the most celebrated performance troupes in Taiwan today, was founded in 1986 by Wu Hsing-kuo, a traditionally trained Beijing opera performer. Searching for new forms of theatrical expression, Wu started experimenting with productions of Shakespeare featuring Beijing opera techniques and methods of modern staging. The first production, The Kingdom of Desire (an adaptation of Macbeth) in 1986, with Wu as Macbeth and Wei Hai-min as Lady Macbeth, was a great success. In 1996, Wei Hai-ming, a famous Beijing opera actress of the Mei Lanfang school (梅派), received the Plum Flower Award, the highest honor for Beijing opera actors.

bThe company has staged both adaptations of such classics as Tempest, King Lear, Medea, and Oresteia (a collaboration with Richard Schechner, in the style of environmental theatre), and modern plays such as Waiting for Godot. It has toured many countries and won many awards. In CLT's performances, traditional Beijing opera techniques heighten the theatricality of Western classics, while modern staging methods and multimedia techniques enrich the tradition of Beijing opera. Wu Hsing-kuo, the founder and artistic director of the Contemporary Legend Theatre, believes that to make traditional topics more meaningful they must be given not only a change of style, but also a new spirit, new thinking, and new attitudes that reflect contemporary society. CLT is one of the most successful troupes of intercultural theatre.

cDuring its California tour in May 2007, CLT will perform two traditional Beijing opera pieces, Farewell My Concubine (霸王別姬) and The Drunken Beauty (貴妃醉酒) featuring Wei Hai-min, and a solo piece, Lear, by Wu Hsing-kuo. The lecture and demonstration at UCLA will feature Wu Hsing-kuo (the artistic director), Lin Hsiu-wei (the producer), Wei Hai-min (the leading female performer) and Hsu Ching-chi (the orchestra director). They will demonstrate sections from Beijing opera and discuss issues related to contemporary theatre, such as the negotiation between modernity and tradition in theatrical expression.

dWU Hsing-kuo, Artistic Director of the Contemporary Legend Theatre, studied at the Fu-Hsing Chinese Opera School and specialized in wu sheng (male martial roles) and lao sheng (middle-aged or old male roles). He received his BA from the Theatre Department at the Chinese Culture University. Since 1973, during his university years, he was a leading dancer with Cloud Gate Dance Theatre. After his graduation in 1977, he became a member of Lu-Kuang Chinese Opera Company. Wu playedg a wide variety of roles, and was awarded the Military Golden award for best actor three times. He received a grant from the Council for Cultural Affairs and a Fulbright Scholarship to study in New York in 1992.

Wu has also acted in films, playing the leading roles in Ho Ping's Eighteen and Tsui Hark's Green Snake. Wu won the 1994 Hong Kong Film Award as best new actor for his role in The Temptation of a Monk directed by Clara Law.

weiWei Hai-min, a famous star from Taiwan's Hai-Kuang Chinese Opera School, has performed in more than one hundred Peking operas over the last twenty years.

After graduating from the Hai-Kuang Chinese Opera School in 1978, she joined the Hai-Kuang Chinese Opera Company and became its major actress of ching-yi (virtuous, elite women) and hua-dan (vivacious unmarried women) roles.

Wei was awarded a National Outstanding Youth Award in 1989 and the National Art Award in 1990. That same year, the Royal National Theatre in the UK invited the Contemporary Legend Theater to perform The Kingdom of Desire in Stratford-on-Avon, where Wei was dubbed "the most beautiful Lady Macbeth."

Wei currently teaches at the Taipei National University of the Arts. She is also the leading actress of National Kuo-Kuang Chinese Opera Company, as well as the director of the Wei Hai-min Chinese Opera Foundation.

讓傳統和現代在劇場裡接軌

西元一九八六年,一群戲曲演員意識到傳統藝術的優勢不再,開始認真思索如何讓傳統戲曲與現代劇場藝術「接軌」;在吳興國和一群同樣懷抱熱情的青年京劇演員共同努力之下,「當代傳奇劇場」於焉誕生。

改編自莎士比亞悲劇《馬克白》的創團作《慾望城國》,將傳統京戲的唱、作、唸、打融入西方經典,並以劇場形式呈現,成功地顛覆了觀眾對京劇既有的認知,締造全新的東方劇場美學。

自創團以來,當代傳奇劇場多次應邀赴國外演出,足跡遍及英國倫敦皇家國家劇院、法國亞維儂藝術節、日本東京亞洲表演藝術祭、丹麥歐丁劇場四十週年慶以及美國史帕雷多藝術節……等等。

融合東西方劇場藝術

多年來,當代傳奇劇場改編自莎士比亞名劇的《慾望城國》、《王子復仇記》、《李爾在此》、《暴風雨》,改編自希臘悲劇的《樓蘭女》、《奧瑞斯提亞》,傳統老戲《陰陽河》、新編作品《無限江山》、《金烏藏嬌》,以及自創嘻哈京劇《兄妹串戲》,皆深獲國內外觀眾好評。二○○五年,當代傳奇劇場挑戰諾貝爾文學獎得主貝克特的荒謬劇《等待果陀》。

多次取經西方經典,再以中國傳統戲曲的元素加以改編、融合東西方劇場藝術、開闢傳統戲曲新道路,已成為當代傳奇劇場獨有的精神與特色。

創造這個時代的當代

當代傳奇劇場未來的工作核心,將以「演出」與「培訓」為兩大重點。

「演出」以延續表演的實驗、探索,及追求作品成熟精緻為發展方向。「培訓」則是透過公開徵選的方式遴選出具潛質的優秀人才並且加以培訓,藉以培養當代傳奇劇場的編導及演出人員,也讓年輕的劇場工作者獲得發展的空間。

面對新世紀的來臨,當代傳奇劇場秉持著跨文化劇場實驗的堅持,繼續在台灣和世界舞台上推出屬於今日台灣劇場的「當代傳奇」。


Cost : Free

RichardGunde
310 825-8683
gunde@ucla.edu

Sponsor(s): Center for Chinese Studies

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