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Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land Performed at PKU Again

Peking University, Beijing, May 28, 2009: On the evening of May 25, "Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land" by the famous Taiwan playwright and director Stan Lai (Lai Shengchuan) was performed at Centennial Commemorative Hall of Peking University (PKU) again which blew a blast of artistic wind in the summer campus.


This play has two different story lines, with one featuring comedy and the other tragedy. It has been staged hundreds of times in just two years on the mainland and won strong responses. The New York Times named it as "the most popular stage drama in contemporary China." Given its two-decade performance history, the play still feels fresh. This time, the play team composed of Huang Lei, Sun Li, He Jiong, Yang Lele, and Tian Yu has brought new feelings and thoughts about love and life to the audiences through the interaction of comedy and tragedy.


 "Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land" is actually two plays, "Secret Love" and "Peach Blossom Load", that at first have seemingly little in common other than the artful, often hilarious conceit binding them together — a mistake that has led a theater to schedule simultaneous dress rehearsals for both shows. One is modern tragedy, the other is ancient comedy. Their performances on the same stage have brought everyone a stage wonder.


"Secret Love" is a serious drama that opens in 1948 Shanghai as two young lovers, Jiang Binliu and Yun Zhifan (played by Huang Lei and Sun Li), bidding each other a temporary farewell in a misty moonlit park. Four decades pass and Jiang Binliu become an old man lying terribly sick in a Taipei hospital room as his devoted, but unloved, Taiwanese wife looks on. He is still brooding over the past before the end of his life, desperate to see Yun Zhifan, from whom he was separated after fleeing the Communist takeover of China in 1949. The pure love between Yun Zhifan and Jiang Binliu has called back the audience’s memories about that period, and their sympathy for the incomplete ending of it. The play has vividly shown the helplessness of true love under the social reality.


"Peach Blossom Land" is a farcical interpretation of a well-known fourth-century story about a lost fisherman who stumbles into a utopian land filled with blossoming peach trees where all people live in harmony because they have no historical memory. In this version, however, the fisherman (played by Tian Yue) is a hapless, cuckolded husband, and the first person he meets in the mythical Peach Blossom Land looks exactly like his wife (played by Yang Lele) and her lover (performed by He Jiong). In the end, he leaves this land in the hope of persuading his estranged wife to return with him. The play shows the triangular relationship in modern people’s life under the ancient environment which reflects people’s living conditions in the modern society and their contradictions and helplessness as well. The actors and actress’ exciting acting won audience’s laughter.


There is warmth in the sadness of "Secret Love"; but sorrow in the laughter of "Peach Blossom Land." Through the contradictions between directors and casts of these two plays, two completely different lives have been pined together by the whole play. The two stories become one through the same stage to let people think and feel. There is comedy’s absurdity emerging in the tragedy as well as tragedy’s sentiment in the comedy which has become an obvious label in Stan Lai’s works. Both the comedy and the tragedy have pointed to the sadness of life in the end and ended successfully in the beautiful peach blossom land.


This is the second performance in PKU since the charity performance for calamitous earthquake in Wenchuan, which was supported by Institute for Cultural Industries of PKU. For the play’s success in the last year, the tickets become hot again in PKU.


Edited by: Seren
Translated by: Su Juan
Source: PKU News (Chinese)