The opening ceremony of the 4th World Theatre Education Conference with 6th Asia Theatre Schools Festival was held both online and offline at the Central Academy of Drama (Changping Campus) in Beijing. The event is hosted by Asia Theatre Education Centre (ATEC), organized by the Central Academy of Drama, China (the CAD), and is supported by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the PRC, as well as the International Theatre Institute (ITI).
The Opening Ceremony
During the ceremony, three guests delivered their wonderful speeches including Mr. Lv Yuzhong (Level I Bureau Rank Official, Department of Arts, Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the People’s Republic of China), Prof. Tobias Biancone (Director-General International Theatre Institute ITI, and President of the ITI/UNESCO Network for Higher Education in the Performing Arts), and Prof. Hao Rong (ATEC Director General, and President of the Central Academy of Drama). Attendees include Ms. Chen Zhongwen (Secretary of the ITI/UNESCO Network for Higher Education in the Performing Arts), directors and representatives of ATEC member schools, Dr. Chris Wang (Trustee of Asian Art Fund Scotland, Chairman of Asia Arts Awards of Edinburgh Fringe Festival), the leadership of the CAD comprising Prof. Xu Xiang (Secretary of the Party Committee), Ms. Song Ying (Vice Secretary of the Party Committee), Vice President Chen Zhijian, Vice President Xu Zhen, Ms. Ge Xiuzhen (Secretary of the Secretary of Committee for Discipline Inspection), Prof. Sun Daqing (Assistant to the President), along with the faculties and students of all departments from the CAD.
Mr. Lv Yuzhong delivering a speech
In his speech, Mr. Lv Yuzhong cited the words by Chinese President Xijingping at the opening ceremony of the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations, that “diversity spurs interaction among civilizations, which in turn promotes mutual learning and their further development.” He further pointed out that the theme of this Conference perfectly interprets a philosophy that advocates cross-border, interdependent and integrated development. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China. In this era of both challenges and hopes when unprecedented changes overlap with the Covid-19 pandemic, media and theatre education should shoulder the responsibility of promoting the integration and mutual learning among civilizations. They should inherit and carry forward the civilization outcomes of ethnic minorities in Asia and help the country where they are rooted to strengthen its self-confidence in culture. Moreover, media and theatre education can provide cultural and spiritual support for achieving greater openness in Asian theatre education and reform of world theatre education and higher education. Therefore, we should reproduce excellent classic theatre works of all nations and achieve creative transformation and innovative development of the outstanding traditional culture rooted in these works, so as to better provide us with inspirations, references, wisdom and strength.
Prof. Tobias Biancone delivering a speech
Prof. Tobias Biancone stated in his speech that the pandemic is an unprecedented challenge for theatre. He pointed out “a fact that history has shown us is omitted in the above statements. It is the fact that the theatrical arts are live arts. Actresses and actors are performing in front of an audience. They are in dialogue with the audience, live. History always has demonstrated to us that the essence of theatre is so intense that it has overcome all the threats, all the trends and all the technical achievements that have been developed for the theatrical and performing arts at the different points of time…the imagination and creativity of theatre people are able to take advantage of all the new developments that we experience nowadays and transform them into performances that are surprising, touching and enchanting us - now and in the future…And the young generation is integrating the diverse media arts in their theatrical productions.”
Prof. Hao Rong delivered a speech and declared open the event.
Prof. Hao Rong declared open the event. This was, as he reiterated, the first online ATEC festival and conference ever been held. He believed that “the pandemic doesn’t block our exchanges but instead help us advance theatre education and reform. Asian countries enjoy long and unique cultural heritage. It is these excellent traditional cultures of countries and nations that have nurtured brilliant theatre art which most intuitively reflects spiritual activities and cultural achievements of people of different countries. It also demonstrates humanism of caring about the world’s future and destiny of mankind. Asian cultures are the continuation of cultural bloodlines of countries in the world and have also made considerable contributions to the progress of human civilization. ATEC gathers scholars from different countries and regions to enhance mutual understanding and respect through various forms of exchanges, and to advance mutual learning and connection among different civilizations through prosperity and progress of theatre education. We believe that on the platform established by ATEC, exchanges in Asia and the world theatre education will be advanced and mutual learning among cultures and civilizations be more all-encompassing and inclusive.”
Director Jarosław Fret of Grotowski Institute in Poland delivering a keynote speech
In his keynote speech, Director Jarosław Fret of Grotowski Institute in Poland expressed his believe that the actor’s education is still a core and it is a future for theater indeed, that “Pandemic time change nothing with this philosophy, actors craft still is a core of theatre art and of performing art. When the bodies of actors were surpassed by all kinds of media, what we should keep in mind is that the subjectivisation of our body is still at the core of art. Our body itself is a medium, and theatre is a channel for communication. The pandemic deals directly with artist creation, which is hindered by ‘comfort zone’. But Covid-19 has dragged people out of the comfort zone, so that we are obliged to redefine ourselves and reconstruct our body—not just to reconstruct our voices and bodies, but to think out of the box, and blaze new trails. He believed that theatre and its education will be back to normal. This is, as he put, a path towards reborn for the exploration of the essence of theatre.
Prof. Sun Daqing delivering a keynote speech
Prof. Sun Daqing is the Assistant to the President of the CAD, Director and Editor-in-chief of Academic Journal Drama, and a Doctoral Supervisor. He first briefed on the status quo of the application of video art in Chinese stage design, then elaborated on the CAD’s close attention on video art, as well as the CAD’s achievements in the research and application of teaching and practice. He then cited Joseph Svoboda, a most influential stage design artist in the 20th century, to prove that “the challenge facing theatre is the strong sense of form and visually of the video and image”. He also pointed out that without cultural content, technology alone is not an art, that we should pay more attention to such theatre-related issues as the suppositive nature of theatre, the relationship between video and traditional scenic design, and the challenge of video to the performing art. New theatrical forms will make for new values and methodologies.
‘Xianghege Dance’ and ‘The World Is Dancing’ by the students of Dance Theatre
‘Flower Rain by Fairies’ by the students of Peking Opera
‘Mulan’ by the students of Puppetry Theatre
‘Jasmine’ and ‘Raise the Glass’ by the students of Western Opera
During the opening ceremony fascinating performances by the CAD students were staged one after another, including ‘Xianghege Dance’ and ‘The World Is Dancing’ by the students of Dance Theatre, ‘Flower Rain by Fairies’ by the students of Peking Opera, ‘Mulan’ by the students of Puppetry Theatre, and ‘Jasmine’ and ‘Raise the Glass’ by the students of Western Opera. Their shows were broadcast online and shared to other ATEC member schools, highlighting the spirit of cultural diversity and mutual learning.