Director: Li Jianping
Playwright: Zhang Lingnan
Institution: Shanghai Theatre Academy - China
Venue: Teatro Municipal “Enrique Buenaventura”
Time: 20:00, May 20, 2015
Event: ATEC 9th International Forum
The Orphan of Zhao is taken from Volume 43 of the book Historical Memories, the chapter dedicated to the story of the Zhao family, and was adapted to the theatre by playwright Ji Junyang during the Yuan Dynasty. The tragedy reveals the perseverance and resolve of the Chinese spirit in its fight against the forces of evil. The play has remained in the popular repertoire for many centuries. Our staging is part of an investigation and experimentation on forms of expression in Traditional Chinese theatre and their influence on the teaching of dramatic theatre.
The play was chosen to participate in the ATEC's Asia Pacific Theatre School Festival, in consideration of the pedagogical interest caused by our investigation, as well as its emblematic significance for China, as the play is an exemplary characterization of traditional Chinese culture. The characters in The Orphan of Zhao hold to their loyalty despite everything and always fulfil their promises; they can give their own life to protect their beliefs. To fulfil a promise, they can sacrifice their own children, and put their lives at risk to exact justice. Maybe these characters' way of thinking is different from that of other people. But this difference is characteristic of our colourful and diverse world.
In the year 597 BC, the Zhao family is slaughtered at the Emperor's orders. A doctor close to the Zhao family, Cheng Ying, receives from a courtesan a new-born baby, the last remaining heir of the persecuted and slaughtered family. To keep the secret from being discovered, she kills herself. Doctor Cheng Ying hides the baby inside his medical basket. But, when he leaves the palace, he’s discovered and detained by General Han Yue. Unexpectedly, General Han Yue shows his loyalty and lets the doctor flee with the baby, killing himself thereafter with his own sword. When the news of the escape of the orphan of Zhao reaches the coup leader, General Tu Angu, he immediately orders to kill all new-borns throughout the country, as well as the families who would oppose the order. To save the orphan of Zhao, Doctor Cheng Ying gives his own son, a new-born, with great sorrow and suffering. After many years, Cheng Ying, haunted by the bloody persecution committed against the Zhao family, raises the orphan with complete devotion. The orphan grows up without knowing his secret story, and becomes the favourite of General Tu Angu, who adopts him as a son. After 20 years, Doctor Cheng Ying reveals the orphan's true origin; uncontrollable anger awakes in the young man, and with a profound hatred which wells up in his soul he kills his adoptive father and avenges his family.