Beijing People's Art Theatre to return to Singapore with Teahouse in March 2015

A scene from Teahouse by the Beijing People's Art Theatre. Audiences will get another whiff of the clatter and bustle of the Yu Tai Teahouse of imperial Beijing come next March. -- PHOTO: ESPLANADE - THEATRES ON THE BAY
A scene from Teahouse by the Beijing People's Art Theatre. Audiences will get another whiff of the clatter and bustle of the Yu Tai Teahouse of imperial Beijing come next March. -- PHOTO: ESPLANADE - THEATRES ON THE BAY

Audiences will get another whiff of the clatter and bustle of the Lao Yu Tai Teahouse of imperial Beijing come next March.

Nearly 30 years after it was first presented in Singapore, the Beijing People's Art Theatre will be reviving the contemporary Chinese classic, Teahouse. It will run at the Esplanade Theatre from March 5 to 8. Tickets go on sale on Dec 2 (Tues) on Sistic.

Teahouse, which premiered in 1958, was first staged here as part of the 1986 Singapore Arts Festival at the Kallang Theatre - one of the first international plays here to be accompanied by English and Chinese surtitles. It was written by the late Chinese playwright and writer Lao She, known for drawing from the richness of the Beijing dialect and the charming humour of Beijing's common folk.

During the Cultural Revolution, Lao She was criticised for sympathising with the plights of small shopkeepers and property owners. The titular teahouse's proprietor, Wang Lifa, is an ambitious businessman who wants to expand his inherited business, but comes up against daunting obstacles.

Teahouse offers a glimpse into Beijing life in the gruelling first half of the 20th century, bringing together more than 70 characters in a story that charts their trials and triumphs. The three-act play takes a whirlwind tour through the end of the Qing dynasty, the Republic era and the Japanese Occupation.

Singapore's late pioneer dramatist Kuo Pao Kun reviewed Teahouse in 1986 for The Straits Times. He gave it glowing praise: "Teahouse has brought the work of Lao She, Jiao (Juyin, the director), Yu (Shizhi, one of the lead actors) and their distinguished company to the pinnacle of world contemporary theatre."

corriet@sph.com.sg

Follow Corrie Tan on Twitter @CorrieTan

book it

TEAHOUSE (BEIJING PEOPLE'S ART THEATRE)

Where: Esplanade Theatre

When: March 5 to 8, 2015. Thurs to Sun at 8pm, Sun at 2.30pm

Admission: $48 to $128 from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to www.sistic.com.sg)