China opens drama museum

Modern theater vies with traditional opera

BEIJING — Modern Chinese drama has always had to compete with traditional opera for aud attention, but a new museum in Beijing hopes to record some of the contribution of “hua ju” (spoken drama) to China’s cultural heritage.

The Beijing People’s Art Theater Museum is the country’s first museum dedicated to modern Chinese drama. The first “hua ju” was introduced from the West in 1907.

Chinese auds tend to prefer Peking opera when going out, but there has always been a solid demand for Western-style theater — last year J.M. Synge’s “Playboy of the Western World” was a big hit, and scribes with a social dimension, such as Bertolt Brecht or Arthur Miller, have also been popular.

Western-style Chinese plays such as Lao She’s “Teahouse” have also become popular classics.

The museum has about 700 photos, 400 paper documents and more than 1,000 other exhibits, including costumes from a Chinese version of “Death of a Salesman” and a number of props.

“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,” Chen Qiuhuai, curator of the museum, said.

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