Part of a 20-year-old stage, a spotlight dating from 1955, and
costumes from the Chinese version of Death of a Salesman,
are just some of the exhibits bound to captivate visitors to
Beijing's latest museum, which opened yesterday.
The Beijing People's Art Theater (BPAT) Museum, located on the
fourth floor of the Capital Theater, No.22 on Wangfujing
Street, is China's first museum dedicated to hua ju,
or modern Chinese drama, as opposed to traditional sung opera.
Modern drama was introduced to the country from the west in the
"The museum was inaugurated to commemorate the 100th anniversary
of modern Chinese drama, and to record aspects of the development
of drama over the past century," said Chen Qiuhuai, curator of the
museum, at the inauguration ceremony on Tuesday.
"When we look back, we find that, as time goes on, many veteran
dramatic artists are leaving us, and souvenirs are disappearing
with them. We felt that a space specially devoted to the history of
modern drama in China was urgently needed," she said.
The museum, which occupies an area of 1,600 square meters, has
about 700 photos, 400 paper documents and more than 1,000 other
exhibits, including costumes and props. It will be a new temple of
Chinese dramatic art and a platform for academic exchanges about
drama, she said.
"Even though it was established by the BPAT, this museum is
certainly not limited to one theater. Its ambition is to record the
essence of modern Chinese drama," said 93-year-old Ouyang Shanzun,
a veteran actor and former president of the BPAT.
"Modern Chinese drama already has a long history. Chinese plays
like Lao She's Teahouse have been staged in other
countries and have become classics. In the meantime, foreign plays
like Death of a Salesman or The Caine Mutiny have
been performed by Chinese actors," Ouyang said.
"Modern Chinese drama is now an integral part of Chinese
culture. In my eyes, it has always been a particularly expressive
form of art," said 65-year-old Wang Guangfu, an all-time drama
"You don't see big scenes and stunts like those in movies, but
you see genuine performing art. Forty years may have passed, but
when I read the lines that were spoken by the best actors of their
day, I can still hear their voices, and the power of their art
comes surging up from the corridors of the past. I can almost feel
them step onto the stage," he said.
(Xinhua News Agency June 13, 2007)