Tang Xianzu

The Ming writer Tang Xianzu (1550-1616) is regarded as one of China’s greatest playwrights. Born in Jiangxi into a scholar’s family, Tang exhibited literary talent from the very tender age of five. He lived in a time of government corruption, instability at the Court, when borders north and south crumbled under threat of attack from neighbouring tribes. Despite his prodigious learning, Tang encountered multiple setbacks in the Jinshi exams[1], and declined requests by numerous official that amounted to aiding in cheating. In 1591, he presented a memorandum to the emperor criticizing the idol conduct of servants of the Court, thus offending its key members. Banished to minor posts in poor, remote southernmost regions, he nevertheless worked with dedication and compassion, allowing prison inmates to visit their families during Spring Festival, and attend Lantern Festival celebrations.


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DiaoChan: the Rise of the Courtesan

I first heard of Red Dragonfly Production last year when they toured the UK with “Autumn of Han”. I was delighted to find a theatre company bringing dramatisations of Chinese stories to the stage. Unfortunately busy schedules meant I missed the show, so it was with great anticipation that I attended the press night for their new play, “DiaoChan: the Rise of the Courtesan”.


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5 CNY Things To Do Outside Chinatown

This week is Spring Festival 2015. In London’s Chinatown, festive lanterns shine over frantic shoppers rushing about to prepare for the biggest annual feast and celebration, there will be lion dances in Gerrard Street and music performances in Trafalgar Square. Is the thought of pushing through the crowds again making your head spin? Are you an adventurous Sinophile wandering what else there is beyond the bounds of Soho? Here are some things you can enjoy in London outside Chinatown.


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Yeh Shen: the World’s First Cinderella

There are some stories which just spring up time and time again, from culture to culture. Certain fears and hopes in the human Psyche that show we’re all basically the same. “Yeh Shen” is one of these, or maybe it’s several, as the Yellow Earth Theatre draws many comparisons in their publicity, and even in the play’s opening scenes, to Cinderella, and proudly announcing that this Chinese fairy tale is the oldest recorded version of the story.


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Last Days of Limehouse

After Yellow Earth’s fantastic Dimsum Nights, I have been following the troupe’s movements, and when I saw that their new production, charting London’s original China Town, would be performed at the old Limehouse Town Hall, I practically leapt for a ticket. Directed by Gary Merry, and Yellow Earth’s overall artistic director, Kumiko Mendl, I’m very glad I did.


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Looking back on 2013: An October of Theatre: Part 2

This is the remainder of my October theatre articles, which I had edited together into a fuller article at the end of December. Whilst that was considered a look back at 2013, I decided that I would complete the editing, and upload this final part before the year of the Snake was through.


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Looking Back on 2013: An October of Theatre Part I

This October has been an extremely good month for Sinophiles in London, with so many China-related events in museums, theatres, conferences as well as TV and the radio. I have actually overexerted myself a little over this month, attending so many events, filling notebooks with article plans and talk outlines, that I gave myself no time to actually write and upload anything, so consider this article a guide to the highlights, and pitfalls, of Chinese culture through the Western lense.


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