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Light at night

By Zhang Lei/Zhou Furong | China Daily | Updated: 2020-04-30 08:16
The Yan Family Garden in Jiangsu's Suzhou opens a night-tour program that includes the performance of the stage play Meet Suzhou, Mudu's Past. The play incorporates the actual scenes of the garden and integrates Suzhou's folk art, customs, clothing and language.[Photo provided to China Daily]

郑州股票配资平台Suzhou is enhancing its night economy amid the reopening of its physical cultural sites as the COVID-19 epidemic comes under control in the country, Zhang Lei and Zhou Furong report.

Jiangsu province's Suzhou launched a "Suzhou at 8:30 pm" campaign in mid-April to bolster the night economy as the city reopens amid the decline of the COVID-19 outbreak in China.

On April 16, nighttime visits to the Master of the Nets Garden resumed after a seven-month hiatus.

郑州股票配资平台The UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the ancient city's four most celebrated gardens.

郑州股票配资平台"Visitors can enjoy some quiet and appreciate Suzhou's uniqueness during night visits," says Zhang Peizu, a senior official with the garden's management.

The Chinese Society for Future Studies' tourism branch's deputy director Liu Simin says: "The night economy now relies mainly on local residents' consumption since the epidemic is not completely over yet. Suzhou's move is a precautionary measure to seize the opportunities of post-epidemic consumption recovery."

He says policymakers are now "walking on a tightrope" to balance epidemic prevention and work resumption. It's a test of the local government's competence.

Another night-tour program, the stage play Meet Suzhou, Mudu's Past has resumed performances and opened to the public at the Yan Family Garden during evening hours.

郑州股票配资平台The immersive show incorporates the actual scenes of the Yan Family Garden and integrates Suzhou's folk art, customs, clothing and language. The play tells the story of how a prominent businessman devoted his wealth to the country during a time of turmoil 100 years ago.

郑州股票配资平台The show takes place in various locations throughout the garden, so actors and audiences must walk among the settings throughout the performance, which features past wedding customs and martial arts. It also incorporates such technologies as 3D simulators for roaming around the city to portray Suzhou's culture.

The local government considers the night economy to be an important indicator of consumption quality, openness and cultural vitality.

The immersive-theater version of the Kunqu Opera, Six Chapters of a Floating Life, based on the book by Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) writer Shen Fu, is scheduled to resume performances on May 1 in the Canglang Pavilion. The opera depicts a married couple whose true love stands in contrast to the patriarchal norms of the time.

Playwright Zhou Mian from the Yu Theater Company believes the garden version of the opera not only creates a classical aesthetic for the opera but also that its authentic setting will attract younger people, who may otherwise pay less attention to traditional culture.

Many of the garden's performance venues offer Chinese-English subtitles using digital signs embedded in windowsill flowerpots or at rockeries' bases to blend in with the plots and surroundings.

郑州股票配资平台The English subtitles were translated by the play's executive producer and translator Kim Gordon, a Briton who specializes in Kunqu Opera studies.

"As for the play itself and its relationship to both Shen Fu's original work and Chinese culture more broadly, we've thought really hard about how to use subtitles to make it more accessible to international audiences in the most effective and concise way possible," Gordon says.

The garden version will resume performances every Saturday. Affected by the epidemic, each set is limited to 30 people, and the fare is 1,580 yuan ($223) per person. In addition, the production team will release its cruise ship version in due course.

Four additional performances including storytelling and ballad singing in Suzhou dialect are added in the neighboring Ke Garden in an attempt to enhance the immersive experience.

In July 2019, it was selected by the Focus on China program launched by the China Performance Industry Association to be staged at France's Avignon Theatre Festival.

Using this opportunity, the local government also plans to officially launch its "Intangible Cultural Heritage and Youth Innovation Program" in May to foster young talents for ancient arts. In July, an experience camp for world cultural heritage will be created specifically for young children.

Indeed, it seems the night is set to offer new light for Suzhou's reopening and beyond.

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