Me and my private Xinhua Dictionary


The Sleepy-less Ensemble

Written and Co-directed by Hu Xuanyi and He Qi


October 24, 2023, 22:00

October 25, 2023,14:00

October 25, 2023,19:00

WHERE: East Warehouse Theatre

Duration: 75 minutes (without intermission)

Performed in Chinese, with English subtitles


Starting from an item that connects generations through collective memory, in the current trend of documentary theater, Me and my private Xinhua Dictionary traces back and explores the linguistic transformation of one's own generation and culture through the movement of memory. The creators are more like observers and recorders of social events, and the "events" in the theater are not just a story plot, but the work itself is a social action.

The section discussing personal memory is very clear, but the criticism of collectivism could be more refined. Nonetheless, the tension between the two has been effectively established, and the questioning has been fully theatrical, resulting in a surprising and engaging experience. This is exactly the kind of documentary theater I want to see! I sincerely hope that there will be more opportunities for further polishing and staging of this type of work.

A standard documentary theater, very sincere and sophisticated, is both fragile and resilient. It has established a smooth and unique theater connection for me, and also greatly inspired my creativity. Thanks! I truly feel the power and fun of this theatrical form.

About Me and my private Xinhua Dictionary

The Xinhua Dictionary is a reference book that every Chinese student used during their school years to look up the meanings of words. Different versions of this reference guide record different eras, preserving different collective memories. On the other hand, The Xinhua Dictionary is a private possession, and all Chinese people have their own stories about it. Only my own experiences can be used to interpret me—everyone is also their own dictionary.

Starting from such an item that combines collective memory and private memory, Me and my private Xinhua Dictionary—part of a series of documentary theater works, intends to explore the small-scale personal memories beneath a grand narrative. This is episode one.


Created by The Sleepy-less Ensemble

Playwright/Director: Hu Xuanyi, He Qi

Dramaturgy: He Yifan

Cast: Li Kui, Zhao Xiaolu, Hou Ying, Huang Lanqing

Cast of the first edition: Tomono Shin

Video Design/Graphic Design: Xuan Yi

Music Design: Qu Ruining, Huang Kai

Lighting Design: Feng Ling

Stage Design: Li Feng

Stage Manager: Sun Haocheng

Produced by The Sleepy-less Ensemble

Co-produced by Real Atypical Omnipotent

With the help of Greatest of All Time, Beijing Fringe Festival, 2332 Studio, Lv Feiran, Wang Qingyang, Bao Han, Man Ding and friends who attended the Shanghai workshop in November 2022.

About Hu Xuanyi and He Qi

Hu Xuanyi, 1994, a theater worker, primarily works as a playwright. She was trained by Chi Wei-Jan and Tong Wei-ger. She won the first prize at the 2nd World Sinophone Drama Competition of Young Playwrights, was selected for the International Playwrights Program held by the Royal Court Theater, and won the Best Young Playwright Award at the 6th Chinese Theater Awards, and the 37th Tian Han Drama Reward (For Script). This is her third production at Wuzhen.

He Qi, 1992, a theater worker, primarily works as a director. After graduating from Fudan University with a degree in Chinese, she studied playwriting at National Taiwan University, under Chi Wei-Jan and Tong Wei-ger. Her works have participated in many theater festivals in China. This is her second production at Wuzhen.

About The Sleepy-less Ensemble

Reality is complex and multi-dimensional, and creative work is an interpretation of reality. Sleepy-less Theater is a land for creating something out of nothing, a playground for storing the present and raging against reality, public institutions: a kind of resilience. Current works include Deduction of Natural Death (2018, short play), The Cat (2021, novel adaptation), Me and My Private XinHua Dictionary (2022, documentary theater), Echoing: The Seagull (2023, reconstruction of the classic).

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