Shang Yang

Date:2018-09-10      Source:National Centre for the Performing Arts

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  • Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre SHANG Yang Directed by CHEN Xinyi.jpg
  • Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre SHANG Yang Directed by CHEN Xinyi.jpg

Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre SHANG Yang Directed by CHEN Xinyi

Dates:September 13-15, 2018


Large-scale historical drama SHANG Yang is authored by the national-class level-A playwright YAO Yuan and directed by the stage director CHEN Xinyi. This drama is adapted on the basis of historical figure SHANG Yang. It not only tells the story of an ancient struggle for reform, but also conveys the masculine courage and uprightness at the cost of life in the pursuit of grand ideal and indomitable fighting spirit of breaking through the encirclement of obsolete culture.

Director’s note: SHANG Yang grows up from a trampled slave to be a free and noble man, and even becomes a powerful minister. He has to avoid the threat of being stabbed in the back. The ambition to achieve his goal leaves him no time to hesitate. And he has to suffer - after all, this is an era of “when a horse takes the lead, other horses gallop ahead”.


In the mid Warring States Period, a concubine of Prince of Wei State gives birth to a newborn boy (later named WEI Yang). The prince invites the sorcerer to make divination for this newborn boy. The sorcerer concludes that this newborn boy will be an evil descendant. As a result, the concubine and her newborn are abandoned to the wilderness.

Ten years later, JING Jian (courtier of the Qin State) is sent on a diplomatic mission to the Wei State. JING Jian and GONGSHU Cuo (General of the Wei State) come to the bank of Xi River and find this boy. At the first glance, JING Jian appreciates this clever boy, and he wants to take the boy to the Qin State and personally adopt him. But the general GONGSHU Cuo arbitrarily takes the boy WEI Yang away, and forces WEI Yang’s foster mother JI Niang to break with WEI Yang. In order to ensure WEI Yang’s bright future, JI Niang cuts out her eyes, and vows not to see WEI Yang again. WEI Yang is taken to Wei State. Then GONGSHU Cuo orders him to accompany the son of King of the Wei State (Prince Ang) to attend school.

However, WEI Yang makes scholastic achievement rather than Prince Ang. WEI Yang has strong interest in the doctrine of Legalism, and is increasingly dissatisfied with his current status for he wants to play a greater role. King Xiaogong of the Qin State ascends the throne, issues the edict to seek talents with eagerness, and claims that the Qin State is willing to follow the system of enfeoffment and give territory to those who make contributions to the Qin State. WEI Yang bids farewell to his lover HAN Nü to go to the Qin State.

Under JING Jian’s introduction, WEI Yang goes canvassing for doctrine of legalists to King Xiaogong. As a result, intense debate on the reform breaks out in the court. Under the support of King Xiaogong, JING Jian, Prince Qian and ZHAO Liang, WEI Yang refutes the ideas of the conservatives so that reform is launched. Unexpectedly, on the grand ceremony for announcement of the new reform and appointing Crown Prince Si, the conservatives launch an attack on the ground of Prince Si’s infantile convulsion and disobedience, and they look on how WEI Yang will deal with this problem. WEI Yang makes decisive disposal, dismisses Prime Minister GONGSUN Gu’s position, and cuts off Grand Preceptor Prince Qian’s left foot. He promptly maintains the enforcement of the new reform. Since then, WEI Yang’s legalism is greatly promoted in the Qin State, and the Qin State is also increasingly powerful.

The growth of the Qin State makes King Hui of the Wei State extremely fearful. Prince Ang conspires to present HAN Nü to King Xiaogong of the Qin State in order to apply stalling tactics and sow discord between WEI Yang and King Xiaogong. JI Niang, who hasn’t seen her son over years, also arrives in Duping alone. Looking at foster mother’s tired and haggard face, WEI Yang wishes to use his lofty title in exchange for JI Niang’s freedom. However, due to the court battle, WEI Yang falls into a dilemma, and he is unable to change this situation.

In order to recover the former territory of the Qin State, the Qin State and the Wei State are at war again. WEI Yang realizes his dream and becomes Duke Shang. His prominence adds to the hatred of the conservatives. Soon after, King Xiaogong dies, and Crown Prince Si ascends the throne. The first thing for Crown Prince Si to do after he ascends the throne is arresting SHANG Yang under accusation of plotting treason. At dead end, SHANG Yang enjoys reunion with JI Niang. Burned by raging fire and shot by countless arrows, this vigorous giant finally dies in the law originated by himself, and puts an end to his heroic but tragic life. With his dauntless innovation spirit, SHANG Yang lays a foundation for the establishment of the Chinese feudal system, and paves the way for the progress of the Chinese history.


CHEN Xinyi Stage Director

CHEN Xinyi has been director of several NCPA's operas including Turandot, La bohème, A Village Teacher and The Chinese Orphan.

She is famous dramatist, national first-grade director and recipient of special allowance by State Council of China.

CHEN Xinyi is a fruitful director who has been actively engaged in the creation of theatrical drama for 62 years. She has created nearly 100 plays; in addition to stage play, opera and Peking Opera, she is found as well involved in musical drama, children's play and local dramas. The works directed by CHEN have won CAO Yu Drama Literature Award, and Splendor Award (for professional theatrical artworks) (Ministry of Culture) even for 14 times (of which four works were given grand prizes), Shanghai White Magnolia Award. Her Dream of Red Mansion and Women of Huizhou (CAO Yu Drama Literature Award) were highly acclaimed. Prosperity of Zhenguan and Mei Lanfang have been selected in the Ten Excellent Stage Works Project.

As a female director, she imparts her works a delicate and understated mood as well as the sensational impact and flavour.


Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre

The Center converges a large number of professional playwrights, directors, performers, stage artists and other creation personnel, with three different-size and full-featured professional performance theatres. Every year, it originates and introduces about 600 various performances.

Founded on January 23rd, 1995, Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre focuses on expanding cultural exchanges with other countries and learning experience in creating outstanding dramas around the world. It has participated in such international art festivals as "Moscow Chekhov International Drama Festival", "Singapore International Drama Festival", "the Ninth Seoul Performing Arts Festival", "British International Shakespeare Festival" and "Sibiu International Drama Festival". With the continuous introduction of foreign original plays and production of excellent contemporary drama works, it has cultivated a solid drama performance market in Shanghai, which further magnetizes nationwide and worldwide drama groups to perform here.

In recent years, Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre also bears fruits in drama education campaign and public welfare. Since 2004, it has launched annual Shanghai College Students' Drama Festival. Since 2005, it has held Shanghai International Contemporary Drama Season with self-raised funds.