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Danny Yung's experimental theatre re-creates literary legend for Shanghai Expo (with photos)

Theatre pioneer Danny Yung will re-create the traditional play "Flee by Night" in a unique style of contemporary theatre for Expo 2010 Shanghai China (Shanghai Expo).

"Flee by Night" is one of the most significant pieces of traditional Chinese theatre featuring Lin Chong, the famous "bandit" in Chinese literature.

The original version of "Flee by Night" is one of the two surviving acts from "The Legend of the Precious Sword" written by playwright Li Kaixian during the mid-Ming dynasty. It was inspired by one of the four great literary classics, "Water Margin", by Shi Naian in the Yuan dynasty.

In the play, Lin Chong is the chief instructor of some 800,000 imperial guards until he is framed by unscrupulous officials and sent into exile. As a last resort, he runs away to join a group of outlaws and eventually becomes one of the legendary 108 Liangshan heroes.

The original play, scripted as the author's rebuke to the political situation of that era, implies much of his own anger and grievances.

As the concluding piece of Mr Yung's Experimental Traditional Opera Trilogy following "The Outcast General" and the award-winning "Tears of Barren Hill", "Flee by Night" continues to experiment with the fusion of Chinese traditional operas and contemporary theatre.

It will be staged in Putonghua with Chinese and English text at the Duanjun Theatre of the Shanghai Theatre Academy from October 16 to 18.

Directed by Mr Yung, "Flee by Night" explores the intricate psychological journey of Lin Chong and the relationship between art and politics.

Mr Yung said: "The original work is filled with suppressed fury towards the establishment and would have been rather irritating to those in power at that time."

According to Mr Yung, the popularity of the piece hasn't lessened over time, proving that the power of art exceeds the power of politics.

"With the changing political landscape, politicians all come and go. But artists are immortal through their works," Mr Yung said.

"I hope this thought-provoking production will expand audience's experience of Kun opera and show how traditional performing arts can be relevant to the present day."

The two leading actors are Ke Jun, President of Jiangsu Performing Arts Group Kun Opera Theatre, and his 25-year-old protg Yang Yang. They will be cast as the middle-aged and teenaged Lin Chong respectively.

Sharing the stage will be Zuni Icosahedron member David Yeung and Li Lite from Kun Opera Theatre on live percussion. Music is by Zuni member Pun Tak-shu while internationally renowned fashion designer Barney Cheng is in charge of costume.

The "Danny Yung Experimental Theatre: Flee by Night" is jointly presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, Zuni Icosahedron, The Centre for China Shanghai International Arts Festival and Shanghai Theatre Academy as a HKSAR cultural programme for Shanghai Expo.

For full programme details and ticketing information, please visit the Event Calendar section on Hong Kong's Expo website, www.hkexpo2010.gov.hk.

"Danny Yung Experimental Theatre: Flee by Night"
Date: October 16 to 18, 2010
Time: 7.30pm
Venue: Duanjun Theatre, Shanghai Theatre Academy
Length: Approx 1 hour 45 minutes
In Putonghua with Chinese and English text
Ticket price: RMB 320, 240, 120
Booking hotline: (86 21) 6272 0455
Online booking: www.festivalclub.org
Programme enquiries:
Zuni Icosahedron (852) 2566 9696
The Centre for China Shanghai International Arts Festival (86 21) 6272 0440