Festival restarts and the best is yet to come

– For the 31st Macao Arts Festival



2020 left in our memory one word, “extraordinary”. 

A year ago, the Macao Arts Festival – already well-prepared to hit the stage – pressed the pause button following the global situation. In 2021, the 31st Macao Arts Festival will be hitting the road again, with the theme of “Restart”. 

The Macao Arts Festival aims to build a platform for international artistic exchanges and for local artists to showcase their works, providing a variety of local and overseas programmes. Over the years, the Festival has not only cultivated talents and accumulated a trove of works, but also expanded the artistic vision and developed the aesthetic appreciation of its audience. In recent years, we have been striving to bring new trends of contemporary theatre to Macao’s stages, in a bid to explore new aesthetics.

As the global pandemic shows no signs of abating, this year’s Festival will focus on productions from Mainland China and Macao. We believe there are wonders to discover. White Snake, an innovative performance presented by the Lin Zhaohua Theatre Studio from Beijing, will kick off the Festival. Inspired by The Legend of the White Snake, the production team creatively redesigns the characters of this classic folktale. This popular narrative which has been interpreted by various art genres, takes now a different dimension in a creative remake combining drama, music, dance and multimedia art. 

China’s first private modern dance group, Jin Xing Dance Theatre from Shanghai, will present Wild Flower and Trinity. The former conveys a strong expressionist spirit. The latter, a performance of works by three renowned choreographers, namely Jin Xing, Emanuel Gat and Arthur Kuggeleyn, explores issues on women’s survival, and human courage and strength, will wow the audience with its artistic appeal and avant-garde ideas.

The Festival always aims to have local productions make up half of its programmes, and the showcase and exchange platform it constructed has witnessed the professional development of local art groups. Local productions this year includes Drunken Dragon Dance, See You through Memories, The Coloane Game, Dance Duo, Property Guide at Lou Kau Mansion and A Short Time Escape. By digging deep into distinctive local culture, cultivating community arts, or creatively tapping into intangible cultural heritage, these works invariably illustrate Macao’s cultural diversity, and injects limitless positive energy into the Festival. Macao Orchestra and Macao Chinese Orchestra will initiate a dialogue between Chinese and Western music, through a performance of Mozart’s classics and a musical feast integrating Chinese culture and modern aesthetics.

Culture is for all and is a necessity of life. It illuminates every corner and everyone like sunshine. Comuna de Pedra Arts and Cultural Association will present The Never-ending Task of Lust for Failure, spotlighting the disadvantaged groups and showing courage and care. It features performers with special needs and encourages more people to listen to their weak yet determined voices. A performance without any modifications is the presentation of real life. By living in the moment and enjoying art, one’s life could be enhanced and nurtured by culture.

The Festival will draw to a graceful and thought-provoking close with Taking Leave by the National Theatre of China, a production adapted from American contemporary playwright Nagle Jackson’s namesake play. National First Class Director Wang Xiaoying leads a team of veteran actors to present a story about the eternity of vulnerable life and ubiquitous love. Grief, joy, separations and reunions happen in life. Looking back at the path travelled, the Macao Arts Festival never forgets its aspiration to draw on tradition, pass on tradition and innovate.

Anhui Huangmei Opera Theatre will bring Dream of the Red Chamber, an innovative adaptation of classic, and audience will feel the ever-growing artistic vitality of the young actors. This creative path is full of surprises. On the Other Side of Macao – A magical adventure, tailor-made for children, also embodies the Festival’s mission to pass on tradition. Youth Cantonese Opera Jiufeng Mountain by the School of Theatre of Macao Conservatory and Boss for a Day, an original play by Dóci Papiaçám di Macau Drama Group, both deliver the message that we are not alone and the best is yet to come.

This year’s Festival features a total of 20 programmes, covering theatre, dance, music and visual arts. Imagery and Space: Ren Dongsheng Scenography Exhibition will present the works by National First Class Stage Designer Ren Dongsheng, demonstrating that stage design can transcend dimensions and spaces, and more than a set, it is a unique imagery. A Room with a View: Baptiste Rabichon Photography Exhibition will feature works by French contemporary cutting-edge photographer Baptiste Rabichon, who creatively blends conventional and digital photography, fostering imagination with still photographs. Performing Arts Gala, which will take place in Iao Hon Market Park, alongside over 100 outreach programmes such as workshops, backstage tour and film screenings, will bring arts to the community.

The Festival will hit the road in May and you are invited to share with us.

Mok Ian Ian
President of the Cultural Affairs Bureau of the Macao S.A.R. Government