Legendary actress keeps learning

Updated: 2014-04-04 08:49

By Chen Jia in San Francisco (China Daily USA)

Stage drama fans in Silicon Valley will get a blast to the past — to China's Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) to be precise — with this weekend's performance of Stunning Beauty at the Cupertino Flint Center.

Looking still in her 20s, the 1950s born famous Chinese actress Liu Xiaoqing will star and is expected to fire up the box office.

"Every audience, every person is inherently fond of the new and tired of the old and performers must meet those needs," Liu said at a press conference on Thursday.

"That's what I am striving to do. It is part of my nature. I like innovation and I like to do something which hasn't been done before," she said.

She is on a US tour with her play with stops in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston and New York from March 29 through April 20 and a total of seven performances of Stunning Beauty will be staged.

Stunning Beauty, also called The Legend of Sai Jinhua, tells the story of a famous courtesan whose marital life influenced China's diplomatic relations with foreign countries in the late Qing Dynasty.

As a legendary but very controversial figure, her interactions with domestic and foreign acquaintances have been rendered in many different versions in novels, plays and movies.

On and off the screen, Liu Xiaoqing is something of a controversial figure herself. She was one of the leading actresses in China in the 1980s, later becoming a successful businesswoman in the 1990s.

In 1999, she became one of the richest people in China, appearing at number 45 on Forbes' list of the 50 richest Chinese business people. In 2002, she was sentenced to a year in prison for tax evasion.

Liu returned to acting in the mid-2000s and Stunning Beauty is her latest stage role.

"Every time I accept a new project, I think it is challenging and within my reach, I can also make a new impression on the audience," Liu said.

As an historical drama, Stunning Beauty uses both humorous and forceful language with a sophisticated and intricate plot to bring to life the elegant times of Sai Jinhua.

In August of 2012, Stunning Beauty was well received in Taiwan and the show has played to sold-out audiences on the mainland.

In 1975, Liu was an actress in the Chengdu Military Region and got her first chance to be in a movie. She played a simple fishing girl in a movie called The Great Wall. The three movies The Little Flower, Wedding and What a Family made Liu famous in Chinese movie circles.

The three distinct characters not only proved her versatility but also earned her the honor of best supporting actress at the Hundred Flowers Awards.

"In the beginning, I didn't know how to act, as I never studied acting at an academy. My acting training is actually an on-going process," she said.

Thanks to the support of her fans, she said she's had many opportunities to learn from her mistakes and further improve her skills. "So I was able perfect myself in movies and plays one after another," she said.

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