The story appears on

Page A2

October 19, 2019

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Feature

Lush lawn plaza hosts impressive line-up of outdoor performances

Surrounding the Shanghai Concert Hall, a sprawling expanse of lawn serves as an open-air venue for the China Shanghai International Arts Festival. Without roof or walls, the natural venue, called Shanghai City Lawn Music Plaza, connects the performing arts with the natural environment in an enveloping atmosphere for audiences.

One of those who will be attending one of the major events on the lawn is Wang Fuqing, 59, a piano teacher in Shanghai and long-time aficionado of the festival.

“I aim to be the first in line on the day,” said Wang. “I plan to arrive there at 5 in the morning. I really like the free and relaxed atmosphere of outdoor performances.”

During this year’s monthlong arts festival, more than 20 shows that are part of the Art Space series will be staged in the lawn plaza.

As one of the core features of the annual festival, Art Space gathers together high-quality performances from all the city’s 16 districts.

In all, 30 venues in the city will host 98 performances during the festival. Many of them are free of charge, while tickets for other shows are set at affordable prices. For example, tickets to a concert by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra of Australia, conducted by world-renowned virtuoso Pinchas Zukerman, cost only 60 to 100 yuan (US$8.45 to US$14).

World-class shows and cheap tickets have a strong appeal to people who love the performing arts but live on budgets.

Wang is one of them. He arrived at the box office 24 hours before concession tickets went on sale at 9am — first in line.

“I have attended the arts festival for 19 years,” said Wang, who brought a folding chair, raincoat, snacks and a bottle of water to stead him on the overnight vigil.

“Queuing up provides time for us art lovers to share performance information,” he said. “Audiences are becoming more sophisticated by the year.”

Growing up in Huangpu District, Wang said he was influenced by the artistic atmosphere in an area along Jinling Road E. that hosted theaters, cinemas, museums and shops selling musical instruments.

In the 1970s, Wang said he and four friends, who didn’t have a lot of money, pooled their resources to buy a taishogoto, or phoenix harp, costing about 15 yuan.

Since 2001, Wang was a fan of the Daily Performance series, predecessor of the Art Space series. Before the launch of Art Space in 2014, shows were mainly held in a square several blocks away on the Nanjing Road Pedestrian Mall.

“In the past 19 years, the quality of performances, the environment of venues and the artistic appreciation of audiences have greatly improved,” said Wang.

The shows span from traditional Chinese operas presented by local organizations to performances by troupes from home and abroad.

“Previously, there were only elderly people or passers-by watching performances,” said Wang. “The shows now cater to people of all ages — white-collar workers, children and families.”

Wang takes a month’s leave from his piano teaching to fully devote himself to the art gala.

At the box office, he shelled out 1,080 yuan for six tickets to three of the most popular shows: the festival’s opening acrobatic play “Dawn in Shanghai,” the Mozart opera “The Magic Flute” by Italy’s La Scala company and a concert by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.

“I will give these tickets to my students,” said Wang. “I didn’t have such excellent opportunities when I was a child, and I don’t want my students to miss this chance. I want to sow in them the seeds of appreciation for the performing arts.”

On October 27, Wang said, he will go to the Shanghai City Lawn Music Plaza to watch a 12-Hour Special Activity along with Shanghai Great World. It will feature concerts, dances, drama and magic shows — all free of charge.

The lush meadow, the gentle breezes and blue skies overhead all contribute to the natural environment that becomes part of the performances.

Open-air concerts that are such crowd-pleasers require a lot of behind-the-scenes staff work. Weather is always a wild card. Rain can wreak havoc on an outdoor performance.

In 2017, the closing performance of the Art Space, a show presented by the National Theatre Brno from the Czech Republic, had to move indoors to the Shanghai Grand Theater because of bad weather.

Wu Liangyu, vice general manager of Shining On Culture Communication Co, remembers the day well. He has been in charge of operations of Art Space at the Shanghai City Lawn Music Plaza since 2016. His team is responsible for the stage construction, liaison with performing troupes and organizing the reception.

“We had to feel our way with the Art Space series,’” said Wu. “At the very beginning, we had no idea how to organize an open-air concert, but now the whole process is very efficient and streamlined.”

A special team from the Shanghai Meteorological Service works closely with Wu’s staff in the planning for weather contingencies. If needed, the event sponsors provide high-quality rain gear for audiences.

For Wu’s team, one of challenges is to accommodate the differing needs of so many performing groups. The interval between performances is short, leaving limited time for changes in stage sets.

Wu said his staff will work from 5am to midnight on the day of the 12-Hour Special Activity. “All the staff working on the Art Space series take it seriously,” said Wu.

“It’s meaningful for all of us. And thanks to Art Space, many people who couldn’t otherwise afford tickets are able to come and see world-class performances.”


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend