This year marks the fifth anniversary since the play "A Dream Like A Dream" first came to theaters in Chinese mainland. This well acclaimed epic play will be staged again on Friday in Beijing Poly Theatre.
Cast members walk on the stage during a tour of "A Dream Like A Dream" in Shanghai, March 1, 2018. (Photo: VCG)
Directed by Stan Lai, also known as Lai Sheng-chuan, the drama features more than 100 characters played by a cast of about 30 members, many of which have great fame and hailed by the young.
Among the cast, big names are Xu Qing, Lu Yan, Hu Ge, Sun Qiang, and Tan Zhuo. In the editions staged in early years, famous actress Wang Ming-chuen and actor King Shih-Chieh also played important roles.
Inspired by Buddhism principles, the drama unveils its stories by exploring the recurring cycle of life. The entire play is like a grand journey, starting from the end of life, and observes possibilities for people's liberation from sufferings.
The play has many unusual aspects. Consisting of two parts, it lasts about eight hours long, which is a big challenge for both the crew and the audience. It's also an integration of stories happened in various places and times, with time ranging from the early Republic of China to modern times, place ranging from Taipei, Paris, Shanghai, Beijing and Normandie.
The stage is like a ring, with a part of the audience sitting in the center. The settings also consist of two three-layer building on each side of the "ring."
The ring-like stage, sometimes square, in some editions round, with the "Lotos Pond" in the center. (Photo: VCG)
The seating area in the center of the stage is called "Lotus Pond." The audience is seated around a ring-like stage as they watch the performers. They are so close to the people onstage, that they can even hear their breath, and smell their perfume. In this way, the drama creates a chance for the outsiders to go into the characters' lives, and feel like they do.
The stories are showed in different places among the stage settings. Each story has one character at the core, and all stories are inter-related. Only after all acts are finished, can the audience finally realize the play's deep implications.
Director Lai Sheng-chuan speaks during the fifth anniversary ceremony for the play "A Dream Like A Dream" in Beijing, December 19, 2017. (Photo: VCG)
"A Dream Like A Dream" has been critically acclaimed since it debuted 18 years ago in China's Taiwan region. It first came to the Chinese mainland in 2013, and have toured many cities each year since then.
BBC praised the director as "probably the best Chinese-language playwright and director in the world," and a prominent culture critic and columnist Raymond Zhou spoke high of the play as "a major milestone in Chinese theater, possibly the greatest Chinese-language play since time immemorial."
Actress Tan Zhuo and Actor King Shih-Chieh act on a building as a part of the setting of the stage during a tour of "A Dream Like A Dream" in Shanghai, March 1, 2018. (Photo: VCG)
The costume director of this play is Yip Kam-Tim, an Oscar-winning visual artist. The director, Lai Sheng-chuan, is also one of the artists who initiated the Wuzhen Theatre Festival in China.