Asian Performance Festival at The Harry Hope Theatre

     The Eastern Connecticut State University Harry Hope Theatre will host very special events as part of an Asian Performance Festival in Fall 2005. The first, a lecture/demonstration presented by a troupe of Beijing Opera performers from China, will be performed during University Hour on Wednesday, September 21, at 3:00 p.m. in Shafer Auditorium (Shafer Hall, first floor, corner of High and Valley Streets, Willimantic, CT).  Admission to this U-Hour is free. The second event, A Night With the Beijing Opera, will be presented by the same troupe on September 29 -October 2, 2005, Thursday -Saturday at 8pm; with a Friday Mid-Day Matinee at 11:00 am; and Sunday matinee at 4pm in the Harry Hope Theatre (Shafer Hall groundfloor; corner of High and Valley Streets, Willimantic, CT).  This troupe, visiting from the National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts in Beijing, will serve as international guest artists-in-residence for two weeks in September at ECSU. 

      A traditional folk form, Beijing Opera interweaves story-telling, mime, dance, song, dialogue, swordplay, and acrobatics in a highly stylized and visually stunning performance that also uses exquisitely embroidered costumes and elaborate headdresses  to portray what the Chinese call a "mirror of the soul."  Audiences will delight in viewing excerpts from highly popular Chinese operas in this rare opportunity to experience this vital and important performance form outside of China.

      The performers, who will be accompanied by teachers from the National Academy of Chinese Theatre, will also visit classes and conduct workshops in this unique performance style.  Participation of these artists has been organized by Qimin Liu, Assistant Professor of Visual Arts, a well-known painter and teacher at ECSU, who is himself a graduate of the National Academy.  Please contact Dr. David Pellegrini at 860-465-5583 for more information about workshops and other events featuring these guests, including the special Mid-Day Matinee on Friday, September 30 for area middle and high schools.

      The Harry Hope Theatre November production will be Tanaka Chikao's The Head of Mary, directed by guest artist Nora Cole, and will run November 15-20, 2005; Tuesday-Saturday at 8pm; with a Sunday matinee at 4pm.  This important play, rarely produced in the United States, is a classic post-World War II Japanese drama that portrays the after-effects of the war on Nagasaki's Catholic community.  Nora Cole, who has performed on and off Broadway and in theatres around the world, returns to ECSU to direct this beautiful, poetic, and timely drama, that seeks to affirm the human spirit while raising questions about faith, community, and hope amidst immense loss. 

      Written in 1958, The Head of Mary, in a gorgeous translation by renowned Japanese scholar David Goodman, is best described as an epic blend of comedy, drama, fantasy, and spectacle.  This production also marks the 60th commemoration of the bombing of Nagasaki and the end of World War II. 

      Rounding out the Asian Performance Festival is the Festival of Japanese Anime sponsored by CAB, that features four critically-acclaimed animated films by the best-known filmmakers of this genre, screened December 1-4, Thursday-Sunday, in a venue on the ESCU campus to be determined. Please stay tuned for more information regarding special guest speakers and Asian Music events which will be part of this Asian Performance Festival as well. Tickets for Harry Hope Theatre shows are $5 for ECSU students and children under 12; $10 for Senior Citizens and ECSU faculty, staff, and alumni; $12 for the general public. For more information and reservations, please call the HHT box office at 860-465-5123.


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