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Shining all the same

(Global Times)

08:50, April 11, 2013

Li(left) in A Dream Like a Dream photos:Courtesy of Wang Shengjun.

The eight-hour stage drama A Dream like a Dream directed by Stan Lai is half way through its 14 day run at Beijing's Poly Theatre. For most of the actors, the heavy workload and requirement for energy and emotion are real challenges in this long production. However, for pop singer Li Yuchun, this is a rare opportunity for her to concentrate on only one task.

"It was like a crocodile running after you all the time," Li described her life as a singer. "Being part of the show is like an excuse to make a change, learning from other actors and director Lai. I have really enjoyed the process," she said.

Eight years after winning the Super Girl singing competition by receiving over 3.5 million votes sent in by text message, Li is still as popular a singer as she has ever been. On top of that, she has also been writing music, directing music videos and concerts, acting in films and now she is stepping into the world of theater.

Seize the opportunity

"I never considered playing stage dramas before... Acting is like a surprising journey to me," Li told the Global Times.

Li has participated in three feature films so far: Bodyguards and Assassins (2009) produced by Peter Chan, The Guillotines (2012) directed by Andrew Lau and Flying Swords of Dragon Gate (2011) directed by Tsui Hark. Although the names that she has cooperated with are all A-listers in the Chinese movie industry, Li is still very green compared to the experienced professionals she performs with in A Dream like a Dream.

Being attracted by director Lai's closed training process, Li decided to take this opportunity and do it "comparatively beautifully" in her words.

In Dream, Li plays a doctor who has just graduated from college. Although her role is not one that carries a deep background story, it is a key character leading the whole storyline. The staging requires her to enter her role immediately while the audience is still settling in their seats after the intervals.

Now, almost a year after first reading the script and being puzzled by the complicated director's notes (the stage goes around the audience and contains eight different positions), she has managed to fit in with the other actors. Instead of the positive feedback from critics, what she enjoyed more was the process of building up "from nothing to what it is today."

'Why me?'

In the entertainment industry, there are always stories of long harsh years before "overnight" success. But for Li, things went very smoothly. She was still a graduate student at the Sichuan Conservatory of Music when she won Super Girl.

Many people may have heard Li's story from the famous TV host Chen Luyu's talk show A Date with Luyu. In 2005, Super Girl went to Chengdu, Sichuan Province to audition candidates for its second season. It was a hot sunny day. After seeing so many people rushing to sign up, Li lost patience and wanted to go home. Then she met her classmate He Jie, who later won fourth place on that year's edition of Super Girl.

"You're already here. Why not stay?" He encouraged Li and changed both their lives.

During those emotional moments when contestants cry over winning or losing, Li remained confident and calm, making her look very different from other girls.

Liang Hongda, a media critic once commented about Li's popularity in his TV show Lao Liang Talks about TV. He said Li gives hope to all the ordinary people who want to become a superstar.

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