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November 9, 2011

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Home » Feature » Art and Culture

Stage play about 'left-over' ladies

SHENGNU, or "left-over" women, is the distasteful but widespread description of unmarried Chinese women in their late 20s or 30s - left over, as though no one wants them, as though they've passed their "use-by" date.

The shengnu phenomenon is widely discussed, especially now that more and more women are marrying later and becoming more choosy in their mates. Quite a few are well-educated, successful and economically independent.

But there's still considerable anxiety of becoming an old maid, a left-over in a society that seems to be all about marriage.

A new so-called "genre" of women's psychological theater is taking on the subject with a new play "Mahjong Women's Hearts" at Shanghai Grand Theatre, from tomorrow through November 20.

Helen Huang, 33-year-old Shanghai single local, is a sales manager in a gift export company and thinks a lot about still being single. She plans to see the play with her girlfriends on Chinese Singles Day (11-11-11) night. It's a day for marriage, match making and lovers. She thinks she may share feelings with the left-over women characters in the play.

"I am not beautiful, nor am I unattractive; not old and not young. I have a family, career, good education and healthy social relationships. I seem to have it all, yet sometimes it seems like nothing." And she has no idea if she will ever find the right man. "Mahjong Women's Hearts" is produced by independent drama studio Ze-Ren and directed by famous local director Yu Manwen. It is set at a mahjong table where four women are talking about their difficulties and confusion.

The main character is a female psychologist with happy family and successful career who is near middle age.

She's the hostess who invites three friends to play mahjong; each of them dreams for great success in careers, relationships and other goals.

"The show will reveal our inner characters, some deeply confused about life and relationships," says director Yu. "The ending will be unexpected."

The show focuses on what is commonly called the psychological "sub health" of Shanghai women.

"The protagonist might be anyone around us. It's about reality," says producer Chen Yiru." We hope the show will inspire our young audience to think about their inner relationship with themselves, facing and accepting themselves and then enjoying life."

"Mahjong Women's Hearts" is the first in Ze-Ren's "Metropolitan Women Trilogy."

The cast are graduates of Shanghai Theater Academy. The four mahjong players are Sha Baobei, Liu Ling, Liu Yanuan and Liu Yang. The only male role is played by Huang Chao, who plays husband of the hostess. He appeared in the film "Crazy Racer."

Date: November 10-20, 7:30pm

Venue: Shanghai Grand Theatre (200 Huangpi Rd N. )

Tickets: 120 yuan (US$19)


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