Escaping From the Temple


ZhaoLiang ART

Written, Choreographed and Directed by Zhao Liang


October 23, 2023, 16:00

October 24, 2023, 17:00

WHERE: N Theatre

Duration: 70 minutes (without intermission)

Performed in Chinese, with English subtitles

About Escaping From the Temple

Escaping From the Temple was derived from two famous Chinese Kunqu Operas: Longing for the Mundane and Going Down the Mountain. The former, in particular, is well-known as a demanding one for female artists to perform, and famed author Lin Yutang once marveled at the young nun’s monologue in Longing for the Mundane, writing, "This text is without doubt one of China’s first-rate literary works."

Zhao Liang inventively presents the Kunqu Opera singing and modern dance performances simultaneously on the stage, featuring both the natural beauty of the former and the avant-garde dynamics of the latter. Such approach to incorporate "drama within drama" is very challenging. The role of the young nun is played by two people, one of whom, Dong Fei, trained under the tutelage of the great Peking Opera master, Mei Lanfang. She will play the role of Empty and sing Kunqu live on the stage.

The story of Escaping From the Temple is quite well known in China: on a beautiful spring day, a young nun meets a young monk and they fall in love. Eventually both of them leave their temples and go down the mountain together. The ending is the climax of the story. But is the "happy ending" a result of the young nun’s own illusions, or a projection of the audience's? The amazing part of Escaping From the Temple lies in its open ending. The audience is left to peel the layers of the story apart, one after another...

From the point of view of visual effects, Escaping From the Temple may be the least fancy show among all three in Zhao Liang’s Eastern Spiritual Desires Trilogy: everything is presented as it is. Nevertheless, there has been no end of discussion and debate triggered by the show and its "as-is" style. To be or not to be – in the mountain or down from the mountain, in the temple or in the mundane – and how to transit smoothly in between...? Audiences of this show may find themselves pondering these questions. 


Playwright/Choreographor/Director: Zhao Liang

Cast: Dong Fei, Li Nan, Li Yu, Xu Yiming, Yu Guojun, Wang Ning, Zhang Di, Zhao Liang

Project Making: Zhao Liang

Project Manager: Piao Wenxue

Sets Design: Ren Siyuan

Costume Design: De Jing  

Costume Supervision: Li Kun

Headwear Design: Sui Yida

Figure Image Design: Seven Wu

On-site Makeup: Xie Yun

Lighting Design: Liu Hengzhi

Mix and Arrange: Desan Yinyue

Live Sound Mixing: Xue Zixun

Stage Manager: Zhou Yajing

Poster Calligraphy: Sun Chu

Poster Photography: Yin Chao

Visual Director: Zhao Liang

Works Commissioning Agency: The 17th Shanghai International Art Festival supports young artists' programs

About Zhao Liang

Zhao Liang is a contemporary dance artist and director and a graduate of the Minzu University of China. He is a pioneer and one of the foremost practitioners of modern dance in China in recent times. From his joining the Guangdong Modern Dance Company in 1998 to his time as an independent artist and then to the establishment of ZhaoLiang ART, Zhao has spent several decades actively performing, accumulating experience, and forming his own unique style in China’s contemporary performing arts scene. Focusing on the relationship between heaven, earth, and human beings, he is constantly disassembling styles and tearing down walls. He excels at following cultural threads to extract artistic meaning, and uses contemporary dance to invite audiences to reflect on the value and meaning of traditional culture. He was the first Chinese choreographer to win the Rome International Dance Competition, and has been awarded the Lotus Award, the highest award in Chinese dance. International media have referred to him as "the shepherd from the East," while in his native China, he is known as the "soulful dancer" and a "choreographic genius". He has also received support from organizations such as the China Literature and Art Foundation and the National Arts Fund, and was selected as one of the 2020 National Leading Talents in Literature and Art. This is his third production at Wuzhen.

ART About ZhaoLiang ART

After decades of work and digestion, the new works from ZhaoLiang ART have assimilated Chinese traditions within the context of Asian culture and contemporary arts. These works are unique, each creating their own system, but are all united through an essential nucleus. From themes to structure, from language to image, all is an exploratin to find new possibilities and results. Such exploration needs courage and grit. Working with determination since 1998, ZhaoLiang ART has assembled many brilliant dancers from home and abroad, as well as artists from different media. ZhaoLiang ART has already established its own unique performance signature, and of the pioneers of modern Chinese dance, can be considered one with the most experimental spirit. ZhaoLiang ART's performances have garnered praise home and abroad, and have been invited to theaters and festivals throughout the world, including architectural spaces that have commissioned new performances. The works not only cross over between tradition and contemporary, they point toward the future, having broken through the borders of dance, moving in the domain of both East and West, flashing toward a common light of humanity.

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