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'Romeo and Juliet' a Shanxi tale

YOUNG dancers from Shanxi Art College will stage "Yi Ba Suan Zao" ("A Handful of Wild Jujubes"), an original dance drama critically acclaimed to be the Chinese equivalent of "Romeo and Juliet."

The aim of the production is to showcase the northern China province's rich culture and history during the World Expo in Shanghai.

"The World Expo provides a great opportunity to introduce traditional Chinese culture to the world," says director/playwright Zhang Jigang, who also directed the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics.

"A Shanxi native myself, I'd like to present the glorious past of jin shang (Shanxi merchants) to the world through the play."

More than 800 performances of the play have been staged around the country since it made its debut in 2004.

Shanxi merchants once held a monopoly on the money transfer business and played an important role in the modern economic history of China. Pingyao, a remote city in the province, is known as the birthplace of China's modern banking system.

The story is about the tragic love between two young people from the small city. Suan Zao, or wild jujube, is a famous fruit in Shanxi and also the name of the female protagonist. The daughter of a rich merchant, she falls in love with a young apprentice and pledges her love for him with a handful of wild jujubes.

However, her father forces her to leave him and adds poison to the jujubes. In the end, the young couple leaves the family together but dies miserably on their way.

"The play shows people Shanxi merchants' hard work, honest principles and most importantly, their pure, faithful love," Zhang says.

He has designed distinctive dancing scenes, such as a Chinese round fan dance, an abacus dance and an innovative Chinese "foot binding" dance.

Date: Tomorrow-May 23, May 26, 29-30, 7:30pm

Venue: Shanghai Theater Academy, 670 Huashan Rd

Tickets: 100-500 yuan

Tel: 1300-3107-977


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