In a sea of comedies and romantic dramas, Danggui is a rare play that pays special attention to the living conditions of modern youth. The name, which literally means “returning home,” is Studio Xijuxinxiang’s unflinching look at life as a beipiao.
Danggui follows Meng Xiaoyu, a young woman whose dilemma represents the story of all who migrate to the capital to live or study without a Beijing hukou.
After experiencing the ups and downs of study, work and emotional life in a city far from home, Meng decides to quit her job and return home. But the decision leads to her being rejected by her parents, who previously regarded her as the “glory” of the family. Her grandmother, on the other hand, is eager to be back home and finds it difficult to adapt to city life.
The clash between age groups is common for young Chinese who hail from the countryside. The pressures Meng faces would be familiar to any beipiao.
“The script of Danggui is a realistic in how it depicts dramatic conflict over the course of a day in accordance with the classical unities of drama,” said Wang Xiaofan, the director of Danggui and an associate professor at the Central Drama Academy.
“In the 1980s, when China was first opening, her parents went to the city to seek a living. They suffered bitterly and lost out on their pensions thanks to the biased hukou policy,” said Wang, also a senior visiting scholar of Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. “Meng Xiaoyu is a well-educated beipiao in her 20s. If she chooses to stay in Beijing, her wedding and housing costs will empty her parents’ lifelong savings.”
Wang said the story of such a generational conflict is typical in Chinese society.
Wang founded Studio Xijuxinxiang in 2009 with the support of Beijing Theatre Association. As China’s first studio open to both professional performers and amateur theater lovers, both educators and drama fans are following Studio Xijuxinxiang’s work.
7:30 pm, December 9-14
Chaoyang District Culture Center, 17 Jintai Lu, Chaoyang
100-200 yuan, 60 yuan for students