Culture\Music and Theater

Wu is upright Qing official in anti-graft play

By CHEN NAN | China Daily | Updated: 2017-03-03 08:34

Wu is upright Qing official in anti-graft play

Actor Wu Jing'an will work with Tianjin People's Art Theater to present The Country's Grain Fields in April. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Chinese actor Wu Jing'an has portrayed honest and strong characters on screen and onstage in the past three decades.

So, it isn't surprising therefore that in his latest play, The Country's Grain Fields, Wu plays an upright official of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

The play, produced by Tianjin People's Art Theater, will be staged in Tianjin on March 31 and over April 1-2, and in Beijing over June 9 to 11.

Wu's role in the play, Liu Tongxun, leads an anti-graft campaign to protect the rights of farmers. But he is set up by other officials, his rank is lowered and his life is threatened.

"Although the story takes place during the reign of Emperor Qianlong (1711-99), it is significant in the current social and political environment in China," the 59-year-old actor says in a Tianjin interview.

"The challenging part of this performance is the long lines that I need to deliver and the use of words that are both precise and sharp."

He expects the audience to stay connected to the story as fighting corruption is an ongoing priority of the central government.

Born in Xi'an, capital of Northwest China's Shaanxi province, Wu graduated from the People's Liberation Army Academy of Art. In 1996, he won the Plum Performance Award, the highest honor for Chinese theater artists, for his performance in the military-themed play, Xiang Jiang, Xiang Jiang (Xiangjiang River).

In 2014, he worked with Tianjin People's Art Theater for the first time in a drama titled Hong Qi Pu (The Red Flag), which premiered in Tianjin in March that year.

The play is based on the late Chinese writer Liang Bin's novel of the same name, which is about a peasants revolution in the late Qing Dynasty. It was widely appreciated.

In July 2014, while touring with the play in different parts of the country, Wu met with a bad car accident. After a long period of recovery, he returned to the stage in 2015.

"Since then I have become close to the members of Tianjin People's Art Theater," says Wu, adding that he wants to continue working on productions with them.

Explaining how the Tianjin People's Art Theater got involved with The Country's Grain Fields, Zhong Hai, president of theater, says Wu told him that its storyline would be great for stage.

The novel, on which The Country's Grain Fields is based, has also been adapted into a TV drama that will be broadcast by China Central Television this summer. The TV script has been written by Gao Feng.

"Wu sent me a few lines from the script and I was very excited. Although a play, in around 130 minutes, cannot summarize a script originally written for TV, we have tailored it to include some important elements," says Zhong, adding that the play will show innocent farmers being deprived of their land and corrupt officials using their influence for financial and personal gains.

Zhong has directed The Red Flag and will be doing the same for The Country's Grain Fields.

In the play, parched farmland will be used as the main stage setting, and should serve as a warning to corrupt officials in real life, he says.

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