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December 9, 2021

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Timelessly evoking difficulties of growing up

Award-winning drama “Niu Tianci” will be staged at Shanghai Oriental Art Center on December 31 and January 1 to help usher in the New Year.

Adapted from Chinese author Lao She’s 1934 novel of the same name, the play was awarded “Play of the Year” and “Best Scenic Design” at the 2021 One Drama Awards, a prestigious event in the Chinese theater community honoring the latest productions and talent.

The play follows the growth of an abandoned child, adopted by a childless couple and given the name Niu Tianci.

The couple has a different way of educating the boy, and although he is well taken care of, he cannot become the inheritor of the family due to his identity.

Director Fang Xu worked on five of Lao’s works prior to “Niu Tianci,” including “The Life of Mine,” “Er Ma and Son” and “Cat Land.”

The Beijing-born director identifies with Lao, who was known for his vivid descriptions of working-class life in the Chinese capital.

According to Fang, who also co-wrote the adaptation, the story of Niu Tianci resonates in the modern era.

“Everybody can become Niu Tianci,” said Fang. “All the trouble and confusion a child encounters while growing up are similar regardless of the era. I believe everyone can see themselves in this story.”

The play features an all-male cast, and all female roles in the three-hour play are performed by male actors.

Another unique feature of the play is the protagonist carries a puppet through the performance, showcasing the outer manners and inner feelings of the role at the same time.

Dates: December 31 and January 1, 7:15pm

Tickets: 180-880 yuan

Venue: Shanghai Oriental Art Center

Address: 425 Dingxiang Road, Pudong New Area


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