Children’s play showcases local lifestyle in 1950s Beijing


The press conference for the children’s play adapted from Ye Guangling’s much-loved book Sanya the Cat’s Rooftop Adventure on July 14 Photo: Courtesy of Beijing Children’s Art Theater

A children’s play showcasing the local way of life in Beijing’s hutongs, the traditional alleyways formed by courtyard residences, is set to debut in the Chinese capital in early August.

The play is an adaptation of the much-loved book Sanya the Cat’s Rooftop Adventure by Beijing-born author Ye Guangling. Ticket sales opened on Thursday for the launch of the first stage performance at the Beijing Nationality Culture Palace Theater in Xicheng District on August 4.

The play is set in Dongcheng, one of Beijing’s liveliest and oldest neighborhoods with rich stories to tell. A happy and naive little girl nicknamed Yaya the mouse spent a carefree childhood with her friends and her cat Sanya in a hutong. The children would catch the “bat fairy” and build their secret garden on the roof of their house. They later escape outside of town to search for the “Rainbow Feet” in Adventure.

A children's play adapted from Beijing-born author Ye Guangling's much-loved book Sanya the Cat's Rooftop Adventure will be on stage on August 4 at Beijing's Nationality Culture Palace Theatre.  Photo: Courtesy of Beijing Children's Art Theater

Photo: Courtesy of Beijing Children’s Art Theater

The setting is a detailed depiction of Beijing in the 1950s.

The play captures and maintains the essence of its original novel, presenting a contrasting world with detailed daily life in the hutongs and the unique atmosphere of the country’s capital.

Entering the site of the press conference held on Thursday to promote the play, one can appreciate the street stalls that were a representative scene in Beijing at the time, where young audiences will see vendors selling goldfish ornamental and most common local brand of drink, Beibingyang or Arctic Ocean, which is always popular, Zha Jiang Mian or fried noodles, and a series of eco-friendly toys such as cartoons, rubber bands and plastic puzzles. Luban Lock wood. They form a synthetic presentation of the unique memory of the inhabitants of Beijing in the 1950s.

“This show is a demonstration of Beijing’s most common and representative way of life. We want children to fully enjoy the show and have something to think about after the show,” said Dong Ning, general manager of the Beijing Performing and Arts Group and chairman of the Beijing Children’s Art Theater, told the media.

Immersive scene

In addition to being faithful to the original work, the children’s play values ​​design elements such as scenic beauty, lighting, costumes and puppets, and while trying to be realistic, it commits to mix dream and reality in the play.

Stage style never goes out of style. From a child’s perspective, it will show the audience the fun hidden in the hutong, make them feel the coolness in the shade of the trees, and tell them how to find the rainbow in the sky.

“This time, we brought some innovations to the show and designed an immersive storyline before the official opening of the show, immersing the audience in the atmosphere of being in the old hutong of 1950s Beijing,” said the director. Wang Ze.

A children's play adapted from Beijing-born author Ye Guangling's much-loved book Sanya the Cat's Rooftop Adventure will be on stage on August 4 at Beijing's Nationality Culture Palace Theatre.  Photo: Courtesy of Beijing Children's Art Theater

Photo: Courtesy of Beijing Children’s Art Theater

Cross cooperation

Based on the author’s own childhood experience, Ye wrote a trilogy, including Uncle Mouse wakes up late, Sanya the Cat’s Rooftop Adventureand The Old Black Dog Problem. The trilogy depicts the innocent but colorful childhood of the protagonist Yaya and shows her vigorous vitality and her friends, as well as the profound influence of traditional Chinese culture on children.

In 2020, a strategic cooperation was launched between the Beijing Performing and Arts Group and the Beijing Publishing Group where the trilogy will be moved to the stage. The series also became the first cooperative project in the creation of children’s plays for the Beijing Children’s Art Theater.

In addition to the upcoming release Sanya the Cat’s Rooftop Adventure, Uncle Mouse wakes up late will also be on stage on August 17 at the Beijing Century Theatre.

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