The Gele Mountain

Grass Stage

Directed by Zhao Chuan

Text: Collaborative Creation


26th Oct. 2018, 19:00

27th Oct. 2018, 19:00

WHERE: Poetry Square

Duration: 100 minutes (without intermission)

Performed in Chinese, with Chinese and English subtitles


Gele Mountain is the experience of a few people living as a group over a couple of days. It does not seem to matter whether it is a theatre or not, whether you are a spectator or performer, or whether you are the one doing the firing or the dishes. Maybe sometimes you are performing, and other times you are watching people perform… But these are really not so important. What’s important, perhaps, is, to be together.

― Zhang Xiaochuan, Art World

Live performance and the randomness of flames come across in the final sound piece: Late night. All lights are off. The artist performs by operating devices onsite, while the audience has their eyes fixed on the flames. Eventually, what you hear merges with the random rhythm of what you see, magically bringing the audience to a moment of soul travel.

…The performance of The Gele Mountain is an action where, instead of constructing stories, the performers directly expend energy from their own bodies. It is not necessarily beautiful; however, it is absolutely powerful, because the performers are in action.

― Yang Xiaoxue, Stage and Screen Reviews

About The Gele Mountain

The Gele Mountain (literally: Mountain of Song and Joy) got its name from the legendary “flood tamer”, Yu the Great, who celebrated on this mountain, after having stopped the Yangtze from flooding. In the springtime, Grass Stage, several potters and friends presented an initial performance of their new work Gele Mountain through a 78-hour firing process in the mountains. This piece intertwined labor, food and drink, water and fire, clay and wood, body, sound, image, reading, as well as village gossip. These elements reacted together and provoked each other, putting theatre back into the fundamental relationship between time, material, labor, and nature.

The theatre version of Gele Mountain unfolds this previous gathering into the theatrical space and focuses on the encounter of the performers’ personal stories about bodily pain, sickness and mortality on the one hand, and classical fables around these topics on the other. All these accounts are contested by the emergence of Artificial Intelligence – a technology that promises to free the body and the soul for good; perhaps turning hard life into comedy… Will there still be any problems for human beings in the future?

Combining collective creation, incorporating video and sound art, development and directing by Zhao Chuan, this performance has been a major Grass Stage project in 2018, a completely new start for Grass Stage after years of practice in social theatre.


Collaborative Creation: Zhao Chuan, Yao Bo, Wu Meng, Gao Zipeng, Kai Tuchmann,

                                   Xu Cheng, Wu Jiamin, Lan Hang, Guo Yingxiu, Yang Liu,

                                   Liao Shuangshuang, Cui Jian, Wang Yujue, Wang Xudong,

                                   Liu Yang, Yang Xiaoxue and so on

Adaptation/Director: Zhao Chuan

Dramaturgy: Kai Oliver Tuchmann

Cast: Wu Meng, Wu Jiamin, Yang Liu, Liu Yang, Xu Cheng

Sound Art Design/Live Sound: Xu Cheng

Stage Art Design: Shaw

Lighting Design: Li Mingfang

Image Editing: Wu Meng

Camera: Gao Zipeng, Kuo Ying Hsiu, Li Jishen

Producer/Stage Manager: Feng Zi

Stage Manager Aid: Zhang Ruoshui

Poster Design: Wu Jiayin

Poster Inscription: Yao Bo

About Zhao Chuan

Zhao Chuan, theatre director, writer, arts critic, and event planner, founded and has been running Grass Stage, which produces socially important contemporary fringe theatre. Zhao’s work is often developed and performed in all sorts of spaces, under the framework of almost the most basic “poor theatre.” Physical theatre, text, and documentary footage are generously employed to engender an inspiring field of intellectual exchange. Zhao and other Grass Stage members focus on the connection between arts and social life in works including the “Social Theatre Trilogy” – namely World Factory, The Little Society, A Madman’s Story – and others. Zhao Chuan has published novels, essays, and books on art theory, both domestically and internationally.

About Grass Stage

Drum Tower West Theatre (DTWT) Grass Stage was founded in the spring of 2005, with writer/theatre director Zhao Chuan as its mastermind, and has since accumulated followers and been influential. Grass Stage creates alternative, social related theatre in Shanghai. Grass Stage events made use of a wide range of venues and situations for both performances and discussions. They not only create spaces for bringing together diverse elements of society, but also provide, in a country relatively lacking opportunities for public participation, a fluid and varied range of public social spaces. Their theatre works have been performed in many Chinese cities, as well as abroad.