Xiao Ke Theater will launch the year-end drama on November 11 – a non-immersive interactive musical “Art Zone” presented in a new form. Produced by music producer Xiao Ke, the musical tells a story about steel and art, showing how the “old factory” was transformed into an “art district”.
“Art District” is set against the background of social changes in the early 21st century. The story takes place in an old factory that produces steel. The factory was once prosperous, but with the changes of the times, the old factory gradually “aged” and became vacant like people. When it was about to withdraw from the stage of history, it met a group of artists with youthful passion, and finally transformed the old factory into an “art district” full of artistic atmosphere. This musical breaks the traditional immersive drama viewing experience and shows the collision and integration between steel and art through music and the characters’ distinct personalities, life experiences and emotional entanglements.
Xiao Ke produces a new musical “Art District”.
Beijing News: What is the motivation behind the creation of “Art District”?
Xiao Ke:When I was preparing to start working on this drama, I thought about it for half a year, but there were so many places to start. We often say that “having no idea where to start” is painful. In fact, it is more painful to have too many places to start. Having too many choices makes you less free. I hope to make a work that everyone loves to watch. This show is not only good for me, but also successful if it can be recognized by the market and the people. Finally, I thought of a core point, which is to combine it with the current era. During the three years of the epidemic, many things have been rising and reborn. In fact, this is the same as an old factory turning into an art district. It is Nirvana and rebirth, so I chose such a place to stay. This is a kind of power that can arouse a kind of enthusiasm and hope. I think this is what everyone wants to see at this time.
Beijing News: Are all the stories in the play true?
Xiao Ke:Yes. There is no shortage of stories in China, and the first criterion for our selection is authenticity. The characters in the play are fictional, but the story line and clues are real. We have an old employee at Xiaoke Theater. He retired when we opened this theater, so we hired him back at that time. He was the earliest property manager of 798 Art Park, and was also a witness who watched 798 transform from a declining factory into a thriving art district in the early 2000s. He told me many stories, and I also used this to understand the context of the formation of this art district.
Beijing News: In the process of collecting materials, what are some interesting stories?
Xiao Ke: There are many interesting stories. For example, when the factory first declined, there were people renting houses here to do everything, including laser drilling; there were also tailors, who were either designers or small tailors; there were also electronics workers, who actually made battery covers; and there were two A stranger rented half a carport here and lived there for a long time. There is also the famous “Dashanzi Steamed Bun” here, which you can now search for on many platforms. In fact, it was originally a steamed bun in the 798 canteen. It was sold secretly and became famous.
Some of the main creators of “Art Zone” present the role of “artists”.
Beijing News:There is a “steel” element in the story of this play. How to express it in music creation?
Xiao Ke:“Steel” is actually difficult to express through music. This time I used some elements of Peking Opera, which are actually gongs and drums (strictly speaking, not Peking Opera), and some modern percussion. A lot of this rhythmic music added together can produce completely unimaginable results. In fact, gongs and drums are a particularly good element. Don’t we always talk about cultural confidence? In fact, gongs and drums can be added to many places and can even become the soul of modern music.
Beijing News:Are there any innovations in stage design this time?
Xiao Ke:Our dance this time was amazing! This time I have two “God help me” talents, one of whom is the stage designer, his name is Lu Ning. We had collaborated before on “Sanlitun No. 42”, but he didn’t perform well that time because last time we were on a traditional stage, this time he broke the traditional viewing relationship. Because our theater itself is an old factory, and our story also takes place in a factory, we simply planned to let the audience sit in the factory and watch what happened in the factory 20 years ago.
Beijing News:Who is the other “talent” you’re talking about?
Xiao Ke:This is our choreographer. He was originally from the French National Ballet. He has a natural sense of rhythm, so his movements have no limitations and can mobilize everyone. He told me that the dances he designed ensure that everyone can do them, even if they are not dancers. He will design actions according to each person’s different situations.
Beijing News: I heard that the auditorium will be divided into sections this time, and there will be many interactive sessions?
Xiao Ke: Yes, we have the “Demolition Team”, “Screw Turning Area”, “Artists Area”, “Boss Area”, “Factory Leaders Area”, “Brickworkers Area” and “New Era Industrial Area”. When entering the venue, some props and identities will be given to the audience. For example, even if you sit in the “brick-moving area”, you may still get the boss’s sign. These are directly related to the subsequent interactions.
Beijing News：Which part of this musical is your favorite?
Xiao Ke:I really like some of the hidden lines I designed in it. For example, the male protagonist’s name is Luo Qiulai, because he was born in Li Qiu. The name “Qiulai” is actually quite earthy, but because his surname is Luo, the name suddenly becomes very… Art now. Because he has a very artistic name, he is destined to do a lot for art. In fact, in this play, I have always had a concept: all the mistakes are destined. There is also the encounter between Luo Qiulai and Xiang Dongdong, which is both real and romantic. I like these designs.
Beijing News reporter Zhang Kunyu
Editor Tian Sini
Proofread by Li Lijun