The Long, Narrow Passageway


Theatre Above

Written and Directed by Stan Lai

World Premiere


October 25, 2023, 17:15

October 25, 2023, 22:00

October 26, 2023, 17:15

October 26, 2023, 22:00

October 27, 2023, 17:15

October 27, 2023, 22:00

WHERE: Shen Estate Teahouse Theatre plus the Hongchang Alleyway

Duration: 80 minutes (without intermission)

Performed in Chinese, with English subtitles

About The Long, Narrow Passageway

Stan Lai’s newest work is a site-specific performance that brings the audience into the evocative Hongchang Alleyway and adjourning Shen Estate Teahouse Theatre. Two tour guides, one old and one young, bring their respective tours into the alleyway, where they meet in the middle and cannot pass each other. Face to face. The two guides discover irrefutable similarities that suggest they are the same person, at different phases of life. They argue. They debate, and the evening turns surreal with the intervention of a Beautiful Girl, a Night Watchman, a Clown and a Musician. Together the two men seek the possibilities of their life, pathways that have led to pathways, and decisions that have led to the long, narrow passageway that sits at the end. This poetic work about time and life features Wu Bi and Ding Yiteng, two friends of the Festival, as well as actors from Stan Lai’s Theatre Above ensemble, Gu Xuewei, Ma Jingwen and Ding Hui.

In this latest Stan Lai work, we see him drift in and out of structure, into debate and music, from indoors to outdoors, from informal to formal space, with the freedom and ease of the proverbial “celestial horse flying through the sky.” The characters are symbolic, yet can be also seen as a-symbolic, the dialogue being a metaphor and at the same time simple everyday speech. In the end, the show is over, we all exit through the long, narrow passageway.


Playwright/Director/Stage Design and Original Music: Stan Lai


Wu Bi as tour guide A

Ding Yiteng as tour guide B

Gu Xuewei as Woman, Beautiful Girl, Old Lady

Ma Jingwen as Clown, Waitress, Tarot Reader

Ding Hui as Night Watchman, Singer

Yin Yiwen as Musician

Technical and Production Consultant: Weihan Liao

Lighting Design/Lighting Technical Advisor: Huang Nuoxing

Stage Design Assistant: Chen Zhiying

Costume Manager: Lyu Pin

Technical Coordinator/Stage Manager: Chen Xsiang-Chun

Sound Technical Advisor/Sound Design: Yang Qisheng

Executive Producers: Nai-chu Ding, Huang Lei

Producer: Vanessa Yeo

Production Manager: Hanna Zhang

Produced by PW Creative Development Limited and Magic Stone Cultural Development Limited

About Stan Lai

Stan Lai is considered "the best Chinese language playwright and director in the world" (BBC), "Asia's top theatre director" (Asiaweek), and "Asia's flagship playwright" (China Daily). Robert Brustein calls him "unchallenged as the major contemporary Asian playwright of his time, perhaps of all time."

Since 1984, Lai's plays have greatly influenced theatre in the Chinese-language world, including those regarded as masterpieces of the modern Chinese-language theatre such as That Evening, We Performed Crosstalk, Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land, The Village, and A Dream Like A Dream, called by China Daily "possibly the greatest Chinese-language play since time immemorial," and his 5-hour epic, AGO.

Lai's publications include his influential Stan Lai on Creativity, 28 plays (in Chinese), and a 3-volume, 12-play collection Selected Plays of Stan Lai (edited by Lissa Tyler Renaud), which has been published in his own English translations by the University of Michigan Press (2022).

Among other awards, Lai received a star on the Walk of Fame at the Sibiu International Theatre Festival in 2019.

Lai is currently Artistic Director of Performance Workshop, Taiwan and Theatre Above, Shanghai, a venue dedicated to the performance of his works, where he is also Co-founder of Theatre Training Above. He is Co-founder, Festival Director and Jury Head of the Wuzhen Theatre Festival. This is his seventh production at Wuzhen.

About Theatre Above

Founded in 2015 in the heart of Shanghai, Theatre Above is a 699 seat theatre, dedicated to the works of Stan Lai. Theatre Above is one of the only independently run theatres of its scale in China, and has become a landmark in the center of the city. Located in the Metro City mall complex in the central Xuhui District and designed by Stan Lai himself, it is one of the few theatres in the world that is actually designed by its user. While performing many of the classics of Lai’s ouevre, such as Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land, The Village, Circle Story, Ménage à 13, Sand on a Distant Star and A Dream Like a Dream, it has also been the site of world premieres of many of Lai’s newer works, including One One Zero Eight and the groundbreaking 5-hour AGO. The venue has also become the preferred stage for many of Shanghai’s other producers and directors.

Theatre Above is also the name of Stan Lai’s theatre ensemble group, which has worked with Lai since 2015.

The name "Theatre Above" refers not only to artistic quality, but to the physical location of the venue (5th floor—"Above"). The theatre’s Chinese name, being a succinct, single world, "Shang", also suggests its location, "Shanghai", and "sophistication", and can also be interpreted as a verb, meaning "to go" to the theatre, making Theatre Above a place where everyone can appreciate the magic and beauty of theatre.

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