Beijing Beat blog with Mark Godfrey

Beijing Beat

A Community Theatre For China's Rockers

Dec 16

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12/16/2008 7:19 AM  RssIcon

The Penghao theatre was badly needed on Beijing top-down and sterile theatre scene. Bands are also using the venue

I was wondering where the Glamorous Pharmacy CD release party was. Now I know: The band, famous in China for its its theatrical stage moves, played their new tunes for an audience of intimates at the Penghao Theatre is a badly needed café theatre on Dongmianhua Hutong, just off the Nanluoguxiang bar strip. A courtyard, roofed, adjacent to a comfortable café-restaurant, the Penghao was also a perfect venue for I heart Shakespeare, a selection of the Bard’s words peformed by expat and local amateur actors.
To avoid being knocked over by car or man since the Naluoguxiang area’s been invaded by retro shops and camera swaying tourists I don’t go down that way anymore: hwo this place changed in 2 years – which is probably why I didn’t see the theatre. All the state media attention in China tends to go to huge vanity projects like the egg shaped National Theatre near Tienanmen Square, designed by French architect Paul Andreu.
Nearly every city has one of these outsized but infrequently used cultural venues, or is copying one of the famous theatres of the world (knock-offs of the Sydney Opera House abound in China’s interior cities). Not a lot happens at these places as government cash tends to be reserved for state-run troupes the likes of which did the Olympic Games opening ceremony. These state-paid performers are rarely fountains of fresh new theatrical ideas. Which is all the more reason why the country needs the like of the Penghao.

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