Interview: Chinese elements add "international" character to Shakespeare's hometown -- scholar

(Xinhua) 14:27, April 25, 2022

LONDON, April 25 (Xinhua) -- Chinese cultural elements commemorating Tang Xianzu, a playwright known as "the Shakespeare of Asia," offer an "international" character to Stratford-upon-Avon, the hometown of William Shakespeare, a Shakespeare scholar has told Xinhua.

Tang and Shakespeare were contemporaries and both died in 1616. Although they could never have met, there are common themes within their works, said Paul Edmondson, head of research for the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

"Some of the things that Tang was writing about were also Shakespeare's concerns. I happen to know that Tang's play The Peony Pavilion is similar in some ways to Romeo and Juliet," said Edmondson, also an honorary fellow of the Shakespeare Institute at the University of Birmingham.

A statue commemorating Shakespeare and Tang was installed at Shakespeare's birthplace garden in 2017.

Two years later, a six-meter-tall pavilion, inspired by The Peony Pavilion, was unveiled at the Firs Garden, just 10 minutes' walk from Shakespeare's birthplace.

Those stable cultural legacies have made Stratford visible "in international place," said Edmondson, adding that visitors walking through the Shakespeare Birthplace garden were often intrigued to find the connection between those two literary giants.

Edmondson appreciates China's efforts in promoting cultural exchanges between China and Britain over the years, especially in terms of "continuing to connect with Shakespeare."

Recalling watching a Chinese opera version of Shakespeare's play Richard III in Shanghai and meeting Chinese actors who came to Stratford a few years ago to perform parts of The Peony Pavilion, Edmondson said, "It was very thrilling to hear the Chinese language and to see how Tang's play was being performed." 

(Web editor: Zhong Wenxing, Liang Jun)


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