Cross-Casting, a new drama from Beijing People’s Art Theatre, uses cross-gender acting to tell about a story of the Republican Era through the lens of modern times.

While rehearsing for a period play that pits a kidnapper against a schoolteacher, the actors of an amateur troupe become moved by the story and begin to explore it further.

“Although they belong to entirely different social classes, the kidnapper and schoolteacher are united through a simple action: kidnapping,” said Cong Lin, the director. “The schoolteacher’s confrontation with the kidnapper shows the power and charm of Chinese traditional culture as well as the integrity of traditional scholars.”

Cong said the teacher is based on the life story of the founder of the Commercial Press, China’s first publishing house.

More interestingly, Cross-Casting forces its actors to cross gender lines.

Although China has a tradition of casting men in female opera roles, that tradition only made the jump to the modern stage about 24 years ago.

“Cross-gender acting is quite a challenge for performers,” Cong said. “Each plays multiple roles that are very distinct. Our goal was that the audience should not be able to tell which actor is playing which part during the show.”

Cross-Casting debuted at the Capital Theatre on January 30. Performances will continue through February 24.

Capital Theatre
Through February 24
22 Wangfujing Street, Dongcheng
120-280 yuan, 60 yuan for students

Yang Xin

About Yang Xin

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Yang Xin is a '90s girl who is obsessed with music, tennis, reading and pretty boys. She hopes her life and career will take her around the world.

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