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December 4, 2021

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Theater renovation turns it young

Theater Young, a new performing arts venue in Yangpu District, will welcome theatergoers in March.

Previously known as the Yangpu Grand Theater, the venue on Kongjiang Road has undergone three years of renovation, and now boasts two performing halls — a 1,020-seat main hall and a 168-seat smaller space.

The new theater will present stage drama performances as well as other innovative artistic activities. The word “young” in its new name was chosen as it sounds similar to “yang,” as in Yangpu District. It also manifests the theater’s aim to entice young audiences with more creative performances.

A series of pre-launch events entitled “Theater Everywhere” have been organized by Theater Young to build good relations with future audiences. Activities included improvisational drama, performance art, ambient music and virtual-reality films.

Because the theater is still under construction, the events were held at various landmarks in Yangpu District, including Shanghai International Fashion Center, the Changyang Campus and the riverside space along the Huangpu River.

“We selected different locations to echo the ‘Theater Everywhere’ theme,” said Li Shihan, an employee of Theater Young.

“Art merges into daily life, which will be one of the new theater’s objectives. Audiences not only watch, but participate in the creation of artistic productions,” she added.

“Future performances will be held both in and out of the theater. High-tech elements will be involved.”

A VR film viewing, one of the most recent “Theater Everywhere” activities held at Changyang Campus, showcases the integration of technology and theater performance.

Participants watched “Or Bit,” a 360-degree avant-garde dance film by Zhang Daming, a veteran director and visual and stage designer.

Zhang said the film was created upon the idea that dance is regarded as a process of change through different elements in space. While the dancers move in the film, the camera, as a virtual character, has its own movement design.

The director also wants to discuss how to guide attention in an immersive environment through the work.

Wearing VR equipment, the audience “searches” for dancers in the 15-minute film. The changing distance between the camera and the performers evokes emotional tension.

Before the viewing, Zhang had randomly picked residents in Yangpu District to watch “Or Bit.” Viewers included workers helping to construct the new theater. Startled by the incredible vividness of the VR film, their reactions were captured in pictures and exhibited during the event.

“We are pleased audiences in neighboring areas welcome new art forms with an open mind,” Li said.

“We are organizing other artistic activities in the district,” she added. “Vitality, leading edge and multiform are key words for Theater Young’s future.”


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