Synopsis and Team
(Three Haunting Souls)
Zhou Long (Director, China)
Yan Quanyi (Dramatist, China)
Jiang Jinghong (Music Designer, China)
Liu Xiaoqing (Styling Designer, China)
Han Jiang (Lighting Designer, China)
Production: Chinese Academy for Dramatic Art
Three Haunting Souls is an experimental drama performed in a small theater, which combines the elements of Chinese traditional opera and the modern factors. It has been adapted from the highlights of traditional operas, The Peony Pavilion: “Love-making in a Dream”, The Red Plum Pavilion: “Setting Pei Free” and The Wulong House :“Holding Captive”. The theme is classical but staged in a contemporary fashion. It is no longer necessary to conjure up the complete plot, but rather they are recounted in a highly abstract, highly simple manner, freeing up this classical theatre from conventional formal boundaries.
A Note to the Play
Three Haunting Souls is an experimental drama played in the small theater which combines the elements of Chinese traditional opera and modern factors. Different from other traditional drama style, it breaks the drama structure that no complete story will be told but just performed in an extremely simple, abstracted and unrestrained way. It not only shows the traditional opera but is also performed with the innovative modern concept without limitation of the space and time. The figures are of concept, abstract and personalized, reflecting characterization and connotation of reality and socialization. The ancient ideas, voices and acting are all constructed and deconstructed in a modern concept to reflect the concept of love, life and value of modern people by means of ancient people’s behavior. This show is about the eternal philosophy of love with the combination of modern and ancient understanding.
The Ghost on Chinese classical opera stage
Man is mortal and love is immortal.
Combination of the traditional opera performance with modern approach
Connection to the classical style with modern concept
The collision of the kindness and evil, beauty and ugliness between the past and present
The conversation of love and hatred, affection and resentment between the ancient and the modern
Break and transcend the time with empty stage, long sleeve, folding fan and handkerchief
By three women’s singing, reciting and acting to represent the past and present, life and death
Three scripts annotate three kinds of spirit
Three souls achieve three types of life
Three kinds of Chinese traditional opera present three styles
Three actresses tell three stories.
Three skills stand for three focuses.
Three intonations show three states of mind
Three musical instruments imply three kinds of emotion
Three tints set off three artistic conceptions.
Three Haunting Souls has been adapted from the highlights of traditional operas, The Peony Pavilion “Love-making in a Dream”, The Red Plum Pavilion “Setting Pei Free” and The Wulong House “Holding Captive”. The vigorous and fervent Setting Pei Free, the delicate and euphemistic Love-making in a Dream and the sad and sentimental Holding Captive all clear up on the simple, modern and vacant stage. When the old stories are paraphrased in a modern sense, we can capture the traditional cultural quintessence as well as brand-new theatrical form. The adaptation of these three highlights is performed in a staggered way with a surprising stage vision, full of novel performing charms.
The three women were the heroines reviving from death in Chinese classical drama. They are deduced once again by modern actresses, revealing the inner mind of the ancient women. Li Huiniang in The Red Plum Pavilion is reborn to this world to conduct the most dangerous salvation. With a pair of long fluttering sleeves, the atmosphere of tension is attained and her chivalrous and upright temper is implied. Du Liniang in The Peony Pavilion is reborn in order to find her beloved. She uses a folding fan to represent her elegant and pure personality as well as the mind of narcissism. Yan Xijiao in The Wulong House wants to take her beloved to the netherworld to be her husband forever. A pretty and coquettish handkerchief accompanied with her exquisite acting expresses a pursuit of extreme selfishness. The actresses shape the characters with their fair and wonderful body language as well as their soft and delicate lines and songs. They act exactly who they are but meanwhile, they are just out of the characters as on-lookers. They show us three kinds of tempers, types and symbols. They represent their “love” in three ways.
Sound / Music
Composition of music
Based on classical style, the music is rearranged in a modern structure with ancient music elements. Kunqu Opera, Peking Opera and Yueju Opera, the three major traditional operas in China, are abstracted as the basic elements for tunes. The expressive inner world of female characters is embodied by the elegant reciting and singing through the clear and neat sounds. The personalities of different characters are represented through distinct musical instruments of xun, xiao, zheng, pipa and drum as the soundtrack of the acting as well as the atmosphere. All the songs, lines and performance are formed during rehearsal extemporaneously without any pre-written limitation. Starting from the freestyle of classical music, interpreted with modern thoughts and combined with singing and acting, the music is arranged to a new free style.