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It's not just child's play (2)

By Liu Dong (Global Times)

13:52, January 09, 2013

A difficult period

It has been a difficult period trying to keep the theater going. In 2004, Cai explained, the troupe had prepared six plays for performances in the first half of the year but only five theaters were available to rent. Most of these were in distant suburbs or even in neighboring provinces. One was a dilapidated rundown clubhouse.

"Once, I remember, we performed in a factory's canteen and the smoke from the kitchen made us cough and brought tears to our eyes. We finished the show though. Even in conditions like this we wanted to perform but had to go where it was the cheapest," she said.

Because the theater troupe insisted on charging very little for tickets to the performances, it was impossible for them to rent established or properly-equipped theaters. "You know, Shanghai has millions of children. Even if only one child sees a children's theater performance every year, there would be a huge demand. But in those days that was mission impossible," she sighed.

Cai believed that, no matter what, Shanghai should have a proper children's theater center as soon as it could. In 2003 she began working towards this. As a member of the Shanghai Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), Cai proposed to the Shanghai municipal government that it build a new children's theater but her proposal was turned down at that stage.

"The authorities told me that because there were so many theaters in Shanghai, there was no need for a special theater for children. I didn't agree with that. A theater for children is different from one for adults - its location and its facilities have to be created with children in mind," she told the Global Times.

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