Fermented, and to Invigorate
– For the 32nd Macao Arts Festival
Art is going to warm up the city in May. The 32nd Macao Arts Festival will present 18 programmes that cover theatre, dance, music and visual arts, alongside outreach programmes. Art leads the way as it always has, laying a path for the audience to “invigorate” their lives.
Over the past three decades, the Macao Arts Festival has spared no effort in building a platform for international art exchange and introducing acclaimed works from other regions while also facilitating local productions. As international cultural exchanges are still restricted due to the impact of the pandemic, this year’s Festival will once again focus on programmes from Mainland China and Macao, while also seeking to break through geographical boundaries and create more possibilities to widen the audience’s international horizons in art using technology and other means.
The Macao Arts Festival this year will kick off with the dance production Free Man from the South presented by BeijingDance/LDTX, a dance company co-founded by the Father of Chinese Modern Dance Willy Tsao and renowned choreographer Li Hanzhong. Based on 26 well-known poems by the Tang dynasty poet Li Bai, the production takes the audience into a poetic space of imagination through a combination of music and dance. Adopting the same prose-poetry style in its narrative, the theatrical production I Am a Moon by young playwright Zhu Yi reveals the desires and secrets of urbanites through several independent yet interrelated stories.
Art transcends times and geographical boundaries. Ancient Greek tragedy Electra, jointly produced by the national professional theatrical company Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre and the Greek production team, presents a timeless crossover between the ancient Greek double aulos, a musical instrument dating from over 2,000 years ago and now reproduced by specialists, and the sheng, a Chinese free reed wind instrument with a reputation that is equally long-standing. The dance production Xiao Ke, jointly created by the versatile Chinese performing artist of the same name and the famous French dancer and choreographer Jérôme Bel through online conferences and rehearsals, stems from the duo’s cross-cultural exchange and dialogue, and reflects the evolution of Chinese dance and culture over the past 40 years through Xiao Ke’s monologue.
The Macao Arts Festival is always committed to facilitating the professional development of local art troupes. Once again, the Festival this year features local productions that account for over half of all the programmes, as well as continues to select programmes from the Macao City Fringe Festival. A number of local programmes includes the technical theatre production Carlos I, created in a form rarely seen in Macao; The Vanished Figures, which delves into the issue of female labour; Vaster Far than the Ocean, a production that combines the traditional arts and crafts of bamboo scaffolds with contemporary dance; Nine Soundscapes, which is conceived from the nine tones of Cantonese; and the heart-warming Grandma’s Treasure Box that makes the audience smile and weep. Some of these programmes reflect upon urban development and local history and some present the conditions of urban life. Amid the pandemic, local artists have developed more insightful and intense sentiment and imagination, which heralds a future all the more worth expecting.
Heritage and innovation are always the driving forces for artistic development. Patuá theatre, which has been inscribed on the National List of Representative Elements of Intangible Cultural Heritage of China, and Cantonese opera, which has been inscribed on UNESCO’s Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage, are popular theatrical forms with the most authentic local flavour and also the must-have programmes of the Macao Arts Festival. This year’s Festival will present the Patuá theatre production Love Cruise and the Cantonese opera The Phantom of Liaozhai. Moreover, the masterpiece presented by the Shanghai Jingju Theatre Company, New Dragon Inn, combines tradition and innovation and reveals infinite vitality by showcasing the magnificence and glamour of traditional art with new techniques.
Art has a special place for children on their journey to adulthood, and this year’s Festival will present multiple programmes for families to enjoy precious time together. Doodle POP, an interactive family play, opens our imagination with childlike drawings, and The Story of Kong Yiji, a local children’s musical production based on Lu Xun’s short story Kong Yiji, inspires creativity and recreates the classic through stage performances. The community-based Performing Arts Gala will continue to spread the power of art across the city with a variety of performances.
The Macao Orchestra will stage “Film Concert Der Rosenkavalier” and take the audience on a journey that spans a hundred years. This year’s closing performance is all the more glamourous – Liza Wang, a versatile actress and singer, will join hands with The Macao Chinese Orchestra to perform a repertoire of timeless classics and conclude the Festival with magnificent music infused with compelling flair.
Outreach programmes are another highlight. Selected Screenings of International Stage Performances will feature screenings of recorded first-class performances by top art troupes from Europe and the United States, allowing the audience to reminisce with large-scale international productions on the silver screen. F’art for U, premiered at the Macao City Fringe Festival and was invited to be staged at the Hong Kong Arts Festival last year, will be restaged at the Macao Arts Festival with a service upgrade and continue to deliver various performances straight to your home.
I sincerely hope all the artists and audience members will enjoy the artistic “invigoration” in the Festival, and that the imagination, hope, sentiment and other forces of life that arise from art can lead us toward a better world.
Leong Wai Man
President of the Cultural Affairs Bureau of the Macao Special Administrative Region Government