A Legend of Cheng Mengxi, the Hui Merchant is staged in National Center for the Performing Arts of China in Beijing on May 7, 2015. (Photo by Xia Shengwei)
Thunderous applause filled the Beijing-based National Center for the Performing Arts of China as a play featuring an honest businessman from Anhui province came to an end on Thursday night.
A Legend of Cheng Mengxi, the Hui Merchant tells the story of a reliable businessman named Cheng Mengxi living in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912). By narrating how he keeps his word to help a broke salt dealer sell his goods, the play reveals endurance and honesty behind the success of Hui Merchants, a merchant group hailing from Huizhou of Anhui province and rising to commercial prominence from the middle of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1643).
The play is part of a list of theatrical pieces performed by Anhui Performing Arts Group (APAG) in Beijing between April 10 and May 16. Also on the list are Anhui Troupes' Beijing Debut, which tells four troupes bring Anhui Opera, commonly known as Huiju, to the capital and contribute to the birth of Peking Opera, and Xiaoqiao, a Huangmei Opera piece depicting a gentle yet brave woman in the Three Kingdoms Period (220-280).
Scripted by Huang Weiruo, professor of the Central Academy of Drama, and directed by Zha Mingzhe, vice-director of the National Theater of China, the play is more than just a play, as local art elements like tones peculiar to Hui Opera are embedded into it.
"The play has striken me as being aesthetic and humorous.......Short as it is, the piece shows us who Hui Merchants are and what the essence of Hui culture is," said a viewer surnamed Long.
The audience included several senior government officials like Sun Shoushan, deputy director of State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, and Cao Zhenghai, head of the Anhui Provincial Publicity Department.
(By Zheng Weiling)