East meets west at Peking Opera at Purdue

Two members of the Shanghai Theatre Company demonstrate their instruments for students at Purdue University. (WLFI Photo)
Two members of the Shanghai Theatre Company demonstrate their instruments for students at Purdue University. (WLFI Photo)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — A Chinese theater company is bringing its own version of a Shakespearean play to Purdue Friday night.

The Revenge of Prince Zi Dan is a Peking opera, or Jingju. The play is a Chinese interpretation of Hamlet.

On Thursday, Purdue students got a chance to get a sneak peek of what to expect during the production.

Members of the Shanghai Theatre Company explained each character and how the costumes hold certain meanings. The musicians also played the instruments heard throughout the opera.

Director of Purdue’s Confucius Institute Wei Hong says Shakespeare told stories in a universal language.

“People will expect to see something that they know about — a western-literature play,” Hong said. “But in the presentation of Chinese Jingju, it’s a great combination — a very unique combination.”

He said the theater group jumped at the chance to perform in West Lafayette.

“The University name — the fame of Purdue University in China,” Hong said. “Purdue really [is] a great name in China, so they want to come to Purdue.”

The Shanghai Theatre Company is performing The Revenge of Prince ZI Dan at Purdue’s Loeb Playhouse Friday at 8 p.m. Tickets are still available at the Loeb Box Office inside Stewart Center on campus.

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