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 Post subject: American Premiere of The Peony Pavilion
PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2006 12:09 pm 
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Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2001 11:01 pm
Posts: 8612
Location: El Granada, CA, USA
*FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 27, 2006

CAL PERFORMANCES PRESENTS THE AMERICAN PREMIERE OF
THE PEONY PAVILION FROM THE SUZHOU KUN OPERA THEATRE OF JIANGSU
FRIDAY & SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 15 & 16 AT 7:00 P.M. & SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 18
AT 3:00 P.M. IN ZELLERBACH HALL

THE NINE-HOUR, THREE EVENING EPIC LOVE STORY TRANSPORTS AUDIENCES
BACK TO 16TH CENTURY CHINA *
*
SIGHTLINES: Pre-performance discussions with Kenneth Pai (Pai
Hsien-yung), producer-writer of The Peony Pavilion, and Ben Wang, China
Institute and United Nations Language Programs, will be given Friday &
Saturday September 15 & 16 at 6:00 p.m. and Sunday September 17 at 2:00
p.m. in Zellerbach Hall

A series of lectures, a three-day symposium titled The Peony Pavilion in
Context: Kun Opera and Cultural Performance from Ming to Modern Times,
and a kunqu master class are presented in conjunction with the production *

BERKELEY, July 27, 2006 -- Considered the Romeo and Juliet of
Chinese culture, the American premiere of a new production of the Ming
Dynasty opera The Peony Pavilion: The Young Lovers' Edition will be
presented by Cal Peformances over three consecutive days Friday-Sunday,
September 15-17 in Zellerbach Hall. The nine-hour, 27-scene production
is re-interpreted and produced by famed Taiwanese novelist Kenneth Pai
(Pai Hsien-yung), Professor Emeritus of Chinese literature and cultural
studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The production
is subtitled The Young Lovers' Edition reflecting Pai's decision to cast
age-appropriate kun opera stars; the production is regarded as the most
faithful reconstruction of the original opera fusing poetry, dance and
music. The cast includes more than two dozen actors, singers and dancers
from the Suzhou Kun Opera Theatre of Jiangsu Province, 20 musicians on
traditional Chinese instruments and twelve acrobats, all wearing 200
exquisite handmade and embroidered costumes.

Suzhou is the birthplace of kunqu (qu means opera), the oldest
living operatic tradition in China and rarely seen in the United States.
In 2001, the United Nations classified kunqu as one of the "Masterpieces
of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity." Following the Berkeley
performances, the production will travel to Irvine Barclay Theater at UC
Irvine (Sept. 22-24); UCLA Live's Royce Hall (Sept. 29-Oct. 1) and UC
Santa Barbara (Oct. 6-8) as a notable component of the University of
California's China initiative. The opera will be performed in Kun, a
local dialect, with subtitles in English and Mandarin.

Free SIGHTLINES pre-performance discussions with Kenneth Pai (Pai
Hsien-yung), producer-writer of The Peony Pavilion, and Ben Wang, China
Institute and United Nations Language Programs, will be given Friday &
Saturday September 15 & 16 at 6:00 p.m. and Sunday, September 17 at 2:00
p.m. in Zellerbach Hall. These events are free to ticket holders.

*THE PEONY PAVILION*
The original Peony Pavilion was written in 1598 by one of China's
greatest playwrights, Tang Xianzu, a contemporary of William
Shakespeare. "From passion, a dream was born, and that dream has turned
into a play," stated Tang Xianzu about his 55-scene, 20-hour play with
over 400 arias of poetry and spoken dialogue. The story, one of the most
beloved tales in Chinese literature, was radical for its time given its
celebration of eroticism, female sexuality and power, and marriage
forged by love. The opera, written during the time of Confucian
orthodoxy, challenged the strict codes of rationality, moral correctness
and social etiquette that predominated. Tang Xianzu, a member of a new
breed of thinkers, believed in the primacy of innate human emotion
rather than a restrictive moral code.

The plot of The Peony Pavilion ? Romeo and Juliet in reverse with a
dash of Tempest-like supernatural elements ? revolves around Liu, a
handsome young student, and Du, the daughter of a high official. Du has
an erotic dream about Liu only to discover upon awakening that her lover
was a mere fantasy; she subsequently dies of a broken heart. Meantime,
Liu has become enraptured by Du's beauty when he accidentally discovers
the young woman's self-portrait hidden in her family's garden. The ghost
of Du appears and the two make love and agree to marry. Liu has his
lover disinterred, despite the risk of execution for grave robbery.
Through the power of their devotion, her body becomes flesh again.
Moved by their deep love, the Emperor pardons Liu's actions as a grave
robber and orders the lovers to marry, an unorthodox decision at a time
when arranged marriages were the accepted custom. Love triumphs over all.

Unlike recent contemporary productions which fused kun music with
other regional Chinese or modern musical genres, the score for Pai's
version uses Tang Xianzu's lyrics, arias with dialogue and asides
interwoven, sung in unison with the transverse bamboo flute. The musical
ensemble is also made up of various plucked, bowed and percussive
instruments. Unlike Peking opera in which dance is incidental, it is an
integral part of kunqu with the performers wearing long white sleeves
that amplify their movement. In a sexually suggestive scene, love-
making is expressed by the entanglement of the flowing sleeves. A
previous production was labeled pornographic by the Chinese government
because of the opera's eroticism.

Countering tradition that has older veteran performers in the
leading roles, Pai selected two young stars from the Suzhou Kun Opera
Theater of Jiangsu, a troupe renowned for its classical methods and
unique location near Kunshan, the birthplace of kunqu.

This is not the first production of The Peony Pavilion performed
in the United States. Theater director Peter Sellars mounted an avant
garde production that had its world premiere in Vienna in 19998; Cal
Performances presented its American premiere the following year. The
Peony Pavilion: The Young Lovers' Edition had its world premiere at the
National Theatre in Taipei, Taiwan in April 2004, followed by
performances in Hsinchu, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Suzhou, Hangzhou, Beijing,
Shanghai, Macau, Tianjin and Nanjing, among other Chinese cities.

*KENNETH PAI*
Kenneth Pai (Pai Hsien-yung) was born in Guilin, Guangxi, China at
the cusp of both the Second Sino-Japanese War and subsequent Chinese
Civil War. Pai's father was the highly-regarded Kuomintang (KMT) general
Pai Chung-hsi, whom he later described as a "stern, Confucian father"
with "some soft spots in his heart." Kenneth Pai was diagnosed with
tuberculosis at the age of seven and lived separately from his family
and eight siblings during his recuperation. He and his family moved to
Hong Kong in 1948 and Taiwan in 1952.

Pai went abroad in 1963 to study literary theory and creative
writing at the University of Iowa. That same year, Pai's mother, with
whom he had a close relationship, died, and it was this death to which
Pai attributes the melancholy that pervades his work. After earning his
M.A. from Iowa, he became a professor of Chinese literature at the
University of California, Santa Barbara, and has resided in Santa
Barbara ever since. Pai retired from UCSB in 1994.

Pai has written dozens of novels and short stories that have been
translated into English, French, Korean, Japanese, German, and other
languages. More of his work has been made into films, TV or stage plays
than almost any other contemporary Taiwanese writer. Many of his works
including Jade Love, Kim's Last Night, Crystal Boys, and Wandering in
the Garden, Waking from Dream are considered Chinese-language classics.

Whether writing creative works in Taiwan or teaching Chinese
literature at UC Santa Barbara, Pai's love of kunqu has been constant.
He was involved in two prior productions of Peony Pavilion, in 1983 and
1992. For this version, he has created a production more suited to
modern tastes while remaining faithful to the original opera and
traditional performance practices of kunqu.

*KUNQU*
Known as "the mother of 100 operas," kunqu is the essence of Chinese
opera, predating both Peking and Cantonese opera. Kunqu originated in
the area of Kunshan in eastern China and is performed in the local
dialect of Kun. Performed continuously for more than five centuries, it
was almost destroyed by Japan's invasion of China and the internal
political upheaval brought about by the Chinese Communist Party. Kunqu
artists all but disappeared with many of them sent to rural areas. There
is only one living member of a generation of kunqu masters trained in
the 1920s; the students of that generation are now in their 60s.

Sensing an urgency to preserve the tradition, Pai wrote and staged
this new rendition to cultivate the next generation of kunqu actors and
audiences, and ensure its preservation for following generations. "It's
a big problem. That's why I was so anxious to train the young actors,"
said Pai in a recent interview in Hong Kong. The young stars underwent
a year of rehearsal in addition to the required four years of kunqu study.

*EDUCATION AND HUMANITIES EVENTS*
A series of lectures, a three-day symposium titled The Peony
Pavilion in Context: Kun Opera and Cultural Performance from Ming to
Modern Times, a making theater event with Professor Pai, and a kunqu
master class are presented in conjunction with the production of The
Peony Pavilion (see calendar on pages 6-8). These events are organized
by Cal Performances in association with the Center for Chinese Studies,
Institute of East Asian Studies, the Department of Music, the Department
of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies, and The Consortium for the
Arts at UC Berkeley. All events are free and open to the public except
where noted.

*TICKET INFORMATION*
Tickets for The Peony Pavilion: The Young Lovers' Edition on
Friday-Sunday, September 15-17 in Zellerbach Hall are priced at $30.00,
$46.00, $68.00, and $86.00; three- performance series are priced at
$75.00, $110.00, $165.00 and $210.00. Tickets are available through the
Cal Performances Ticket Office at Zellerbach Hall; at (510) 642-9988 to
charge by phone; at www.calperfs.berkeley.edu; and at the door.
Half-price tickets are available for purchase by UC Berkeley students.
UC faculty and staff, senior citizens and other students receive a $2
discount, and UC Alumni Association members receive a $3 discount
(Special Events excluded). For more information, call Cal Performances
at (510) 642-9988, or visit the Cal Performances web site at
www.calperfs.berkeley.edu.

# # #

Cal Performances' 2006/2007 season is sponsored by Wells Fargo.

# # #


*CALENDAR EDITORS, PLEASE NOTE:
CALENDAR OF EVENTS & PERFORMANCES*

The Peony Pavilion: The Young Loves' Edition
September 15 -- 17


Fri. & Sat., Sept. 15 & 16 from 6:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Sunday, September 17 from 2:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley Campus
Bancroft Way at Telegraph Ave., Berkeley

SIGHTLINES
The Peony Pavilion pre-performance discussions with Kenneth Pai (Pai
Hsien-yung), Professor Emeritus, UC Santa Barbara and Ben Wang, China
Institute and United Nations Language Programs. Sightlines is a
continuing program of pre- and post-performance discussions with Cal
Performances' guest artists and scholars, designed to enrich the
audience's experience. These events are free to ticketholders.

# # #

Friday & Saturday, September 15 & 16 at 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, September 17 at 3:00 p.m.

Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley Campus
Bancroft Way at Telegraph Ave., Berkeley

Special Event
Suzhou Kun Opera Theatre of Jiangsu
The Peony Pavilion: The Young Lovers' Edition

Program: Suzhou Kun Opera Theatre of Jiangsu performs the American
premiere of Kenneth Pai's production of The Peony Pavilion, the
400-year-old masterpiece of Ming Dynasty kun opera. The nine-hour play
unfolds over three evening performances.

Tickets: Individual performance: $30.00, $46.00, $68.00 and $86.00;
three performance series: $75.00, $110.00, $165.00 and $210.00,
available through the Cal Performances Ticket Office at Zellerbach Hall;
at (510) 642-9988 to charge by phone; at www.calperfs.berkeley.edu; and
at the door.

# # #

Sunday, August 6

World Journal Auditorium
231 Adrian Road, Millbrae, CA

LECTURE
2:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.: "The Art of Kunqu"
A lecture discussion by Kenneth Pai and Zhu Qi. For more information,
contact the World Journal Public Relations Office at 650-259-2098.
(Presented in Mandarin Chinese)


Tuesday, August 8

Institute of East Asian Studies
2255 Fulton Street, 6th Floor, Berkeley

LECTURE
6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.: "The Art of Kunqu"
A lecture discussion by Kenneth Pai and Lindy Li Mark. For more
information, contact Center for Chinese Studies at 510-643-6321 or
ccs@berkeley.edu



Thursday, August 10

Asian Art Museum
200 Larkin Street, San Francisco, CA

LECTURE
6:30 p.m.: "The (New) Peony Pavilion: Tradition and Modernity"
A lecture featuring Kenneth Pai and Lindy Li Mark. For more information,
contact the Asian Art Museum at 415-581-3500. (Free with museum admission)


Sunday, September 10

Hertz Hall, UC Berkeley Campus
Bancroft Way at College Avenue, Berkeley

LECTURE
2:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.: "Women in the Ming Dynasty"
A lecture/demonstration presented by Lindy Li Mark and Matthew Sommer,
with Ming Zeng, master kunqu flutist, and a singer, TBD. For more
information, contact Center for Chinese Studies at 510-643-6321 or
ccs@berkeley.edu


Friday, September 15

Alumni House, UC Berkeley Campus
Bancroft Way at Dana Court

SYMPOSIUM & LECTURE SCHEDULE

SYMPOSIUM, DAY I

8:45 a.m.-10:30 a.m.: "The Music of Kun Opera"
Symposium chaired by Bonnie C. Wade, Music, University of California,
Berkeley; with talks by Joseph Lam, Musicology, The University of
Michigan, "Kunqu: the Civilized (ya) Arias of Late Ming and Early Qing
China."; Wu Xinlei, Literature, Nanjing University, "A Study of the
Kunqu Scores for Complete Printed Editions of Mudanting"
Discussant: Lindy Li Mark, Anthropology, California State University,
East Bay

10:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: "Kun Opera & The Ming-Qing Transition"
Symposium chaired by Robert Ashmore, EALC, University of California,
Berkeley; with talks by Katherine Carlitz, EALL, University of
Pittsburgh, "Can the Ming Survive? Politics in the Plays of Meng
Chengshun (1599-ca.1684)"; Catherine Swatek, Asian Studies, University
of British Columbia, "Who Put the Dialect in Kunqu? Suzhou Playwrights
and Suzhou Dialect"
Discussant: David Johnson, History, University of California, Berkeley

# # #

2:30 p.m.-4:30p.m.: Making Theater: Talking About The Peony Pavilion
Lecture discussion by Kenneth Pai (Producer & Scriptwriter), Hua Wei
(Scriptwriter), and Wang Mengchao (Stage Designer). Presented in
association with the Department of Theater, Dance, & Performance
Studies. For more information, contact 510-642-3691.


Saturday, September 16

Alumni House, UC Berkeley Campus
Bancroft Way at Dana Court

SYMPOSIUM & LECTURE SCHEDULE

SYMPOSIUM, DAY II

8:45 a.m.-10:30 a.m.: "The Politics of Kun Opera in the Qing"
Symposium chaired by Patricia Berger, History of Art, University of
California, Berkeley; with talks by Hua Wei, Literature & Philosophy,
Academia Sinica, "Desire, Gender, and Chinese/Barbarian Conflict in
Farces: A Different Kind of Comedy from the Early Qing Playwright Wu
Zhensheng"; Wei Shang, EALC, Columbia University, "Caizi Mudanting and
the Hermeneutics of Subversion"
Discussant: Sophie Volpp, EALC, University of California, Berkeley

10:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: "Kunqu Trajectories in the 19th Century"
Symposium chaired by Mary Ann Smart, Music, University of California,
Berkeley; with talks by Andrea S. Goldman, History, University of
Maryland, "The Accidental Death of Kunqu"; David Rolston, Asian
Languages & Cultures, The University of Michigan, "What's the Place of
Kunqu in the Peking Opera Repertoire?"
Discussant: Matthew Sommer, History, Stanford University

# # #

2:30 p.m.-4:30p.m.: Kunqu Master Class
Lecture discussion by Wang Shiyu & Zhang Jiqing, the kunqu movement and
vocal directors of the Peony Pavilion production. Presented in
association with the Department of Theater, Dance, & Performance
Studies. For more information, contact the Center for Chinese Studies at
510-642-6321 or ccs@berkeley.edu (In Mandarin Chinese with English
translation)


Sunday, September 17

Alumni House, UC Berkeley Campus
Bancroft Way at Dana Court

SYMPOSIUM SCHEDULE

SYMPOSIUM, DAY III

9:00 a.m.-10:45 a.m.: "Kunqu in a Global Context, I"
Round Table Discussion Chaired by Wen-hsin Yeh, History, University of
California, Berkeley; with talks by Elizabeth Wichmann-Walczak, Theatre
& Dance, University of Hawaii at Manoa; Sheila Melvin, Music
Correspondent, Asian Wall Street Journal; Madam Hua Wenyi, master Kunqu
artist; Susan Pertel Jain, UCLA; Haiping Yan, Critical Studies, School
of Theatre, Film & Television, UCLA; Sudipto Chatterjee, Theater, Dance
and Performance Studies, University of California, Berkeley

11:00 a.m.-12:00 a.m.: "Kunqu in a Global Context, II"
Discussion with Kenneth Pai, panel presenters, and the audience
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
-30-




CONTACT:


Christina Kellogg 510.643.6714

ckellogg@calperfs.berkeley.edu

Joe Yang 510.642.9121
scyang@calperfs.berkeley.edu


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