Popular Mechanics


New Youth Group

Directed by Li Jianjun


18th Oct. 2018, 20:30

19th Oct. 2018, 19:00

20th Oct. 2018, 19:00

21st Oct. 2018, 19:00

WHERE: Poetry Square

Duration: 105 minutes (without intermission)

Performed in Chinese, with Chinese and English subtitles

About Popular Mechanics

As a branch of physics, mechanics studies energy, force, and their relation to the equilibrium, deformation, or motion of solids, liquids and gases. In the theatre, actors, space, audience and other elements of drama also have some kind of relation, like the flow and balance of energy or force.

Picture this: silent tension, sacred debut; of different ages and different backgrounds, a group of ordinary people each with his or her own thoughts, ready to experience as an actor the exhilarating moment when "the show is about to begin." What is it that pulls all kinds of people out of the inertia of their everyday lives, and makes them infatuated with a role-playing ritual under the spotlight? On the stage where fantasies take place, what persona do they long to be? To which character will they devote themselves? In the miraculous transposition between role-playing and reality, the “self” breaks away from the shackles of personal life at a certain moment and magically corresponds to a fictional character from the theatre. When the script ends, the actor suddenly wakes up as if from an enchantment. While reminiscent of the feeling of separation one has when waking up, they rediscover the same old yet beautiful life.

Inspired by the work of the same name written by American short story writer [Raymond] Carver, the New Youth Group has created a new drama named Popular Mechanics in 2018. Popular Mechanics focuses on the ritual feelings and empathy that ordinary people have obtained in transitory performance. When ordinary people act on the stage not as “actors,” how will their completely different temperaments and life experiences bring changes to the characters, lines, reality, and the boundaries of self in the theatre?


Director: Li Jianjun

Text/Curator: Zhuang Jiayun

Lighting Design: Chen Xiaji

Executive Director: Yang Mingchen, Xiao Jing

Dramaturgy: Hong Tianyi, Huang Bing

Video: Luo Chuhui

Design Assistant: Yang Cheng

Stage Manager: Gao Jing

Producer: Wang Qingyang

Production: New Youth Group

About the Director

Director Li Jianjun

Li Jianjun is an independent theatre director, living and working in Beijing. In 2011, he founded the New Youth Group. Li Jianjun is an important practitioner of contemporary theatre art in China. His series of theatrical works reflect his concern for the living situation of ordinary people. He combines the historical experience of visual arts with the study of theatre media, which gives his work a distinct spirit of innovation. In recent years, his works have received extensive attention and controversial discussion because of their critical cultural stand and exploration of theatre aesthetics.

About New Youth Group

The New Youth Group was founded in 2011. They have created Madman’s Diary, Say Goodbye to Your Shadow, A Beautiful Day, 25.3km, A Man Who Flies Up to the Sky, and more. The group is devoted to exploring new theatre aesthetics and using the stage art as a tool for intervening in the daily life of contemporary China. New Youth Group has been invited to the Beijing Fringe Festival, Wuzhen Theatre Festival, Festival/Tokyo, German Ruhr Art Festival, Italy VIE Art Festival, and more.