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Outpost: A Nostalgic Dive into China’s Literary Giants Through the Eyes of Today’s Youth

CultureArtOutpost: A Nostalgic Dive into China's Literary Giants Through the Eyes of Today's Youth

In the bustling city of Shanghai, the Shanghai Theater Academy has carved out a theatrical masterpiece that transcends time and brings together the fervor of two generations. The drama “Outpost”, which first graced the stage at the academy’s experimental theater on February 7, 2021, recently received an ovation at the Peking University Centennial Hall on October 21.

When it originally debuted, the performance immediately captured the hearts and minds of audiences, becoming a shining testament to the prowess of the Shanghai Theater Academy. Its journey from the academy to the prestigious Peking University Centennial Hall not only speaks to its acclaim but also to its profound resonance with the Chinese cultural psyche.

This latest rendition of “Outpost” features Wang Luoyong, the play’s artistic director. Not only does he breathe life into the drama from behind the scenes, but he also assumes the role of the iconic Chinese writer Lu Xun. Accompanying him on stage is the talented actor Hai Yitian, along with a slew of budding actors from the Shanghai Theater Academy. What makes this performance stand out is that a staggering 90% of the cast consists of students born after the turn of the millennium. These young performers, with their contemporary sensibilities, delve deep into the 1930s, channeling the vigor and valor of their predecessors.

Set in 2020 within the confines of an art college in Shanghai, the narrative of “Outpost” revolves around five students tasked with the creation of a script. As the plot unfolds, audiences are transported back in time, tracing the footsteps of five seminal left-wing Chinese writers: Rou Shi, Hu Yepin, Li Weisen, Feng Keng, and Yin Fu. Each of these writers, in their own right, made significant contributions to Chinese literature and also collaborated closely with the legendary Lu Xun.

The decision to stage “Outpost” at the Peking University Centennial Hall holds symbolic significance. Lu Xun, one of the central characters in the drama, had historical ties with Peking University. From August 1920 to August 1926, he served at the university, during which he also crafted the university’s emblem—a symbol that continues to inspire students and scholars alike.

As audience members leave the hall, they carry with them a piece of China’s literary past, beautifully interwoven with the aspirations and dreams of the youth of today. “Outpost” stands as a bridge connecting two eras, proving that art, passion, and history remain intertwined, regardless of the generation observing it.


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