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Foto der Performance "Mini View": Xiao Ke unterwegs mit Kleiderständer, im Hintergrund die Skyline Shanghais © Zhou Zi Han

"Xiao Ke x Zi Han: Mini View" in Shanghai

KunstFestSpiele 2015

China as the land of theatre

During the past thirty years, five million villages have disappeared in China and three hundred more are being flattened every day to produce new space for investments and real estate speculation. Alongside the material devastation left in the wake of Chinese turbo-capitalism, an immense immaterial cultural heritage is being eradicated.

Fifty years ago, 350 independent and regionally autonom-ic forms of theatre could be counted across the entire country. A handful of these continue to be supported by the Chinese state today, but even the Peking Opera, one of the more recent developments and best suited for export to Western countries due to its circus-style opulence, has long been eclipsed by Disney musicals and lost its status among the Chinese public.
In this situation, venturous theatre artists have begun refocusing their attention on tradition – not with the aim of retaining it in its old form, but to employ it to develop the roots of an independent avant-garde in defence against the devouring Western culture of consumerism and the obliteration of social standards.
The two artists Danny Yung (*1943) from Hong Kong and Xiao Ke (*1979) from Shanghai whom we have invited along with their works to the KunstFestSpiele Herrenhausen are separated by a good two generations, and Shanghai in mainland China still remains worlds apart from Hong Kong which under British rule was spared the effects of Mao’s cultural revolution: here cultural Chinese traditions continue to be in better health than on the mainland. The two paths are therefore highly different, but have a common destination.