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November 13, 2009

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Revenge play as opera

"THE Wilderness," a classic revenge play by famed dramatist Cao Yu ("Peking Man"), has been adapted into varied theater, film and TV series. But its incarnation next week as Peking Opera may be a first.

On November 17 and 18, the Taipei Li-yuan Chinese Opera Theater will stage the 1937 play at the Majestic Theater.

It's the story of revenge taken by Chou Hu, a rural man who is wrongly imprisoned after being framed by local tyrant Jiao Yanwang. Jiao had buried Chou's father alive, taken over his family land, sold his sister into prostitution and forced Jin Zi, Chou's childhood sweetheart, to marry his son.

"The Wilderness," which takes place in the countryside, is the third of the trilogy, including "The Thunderstorm" and "Sunrise."

It begins after Chou breaks out of prison and returns home. Tyrant Jiao is already dead.

Chou finds his old sweetheart and plots revenge, but the tyrant's wife is blind and his pathetic and cowardly son was Chou's childhood friend. Chou's inner struggles begin.

Chou is played by Li Baochun, director of the Taipei Li-yuan Chinese Opera Theater. Li, son of Peking Opera master Li Shaochun, specialized in playing laosheng (old man) wusheng (martial arts expert).

"The rising and falling tones in Peking Opera can vividly portray the torture and depression of the characters," says Li, who is also the director.

The Peking Opera performance is high melodrama. It features impressive sets and costumes.

Li says he hopes it will promote traditional opera among young people.

Date: November 17-18, 7:15pm

Venue: Majestic Theater, 66 Jiangning Rd

Tickets: 100-380 yuan

Tel: 6217-3311, 6217-4409


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