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About the Company
Maki Onuki appearing with The Washington Ballet
The Beijing People's Art Theatre, China's premier professional theater company, has in the past 50 years codified modern Chinese theater, presenting to date more than 12,500 performances of 250 productions.

The company was founded in 1952, soon after the establishment of the People's Republic of China, when the North China People's Art Theatre and the drama troupe of the Central Academy of Drama merged. The company was modeled after the Moscow People's Art Theatre, with master playwright Cao Yu serving as its founding president, and Jiao Juyin its first general director. During the company's first decade, audiences were introduced to epoch-making works by Lao She (Teahouse, Rickshaw Boy) and Cao Yu (Sunrise, Thunderstorm) in a distinctive theatrical style dubbed by critics “poetic realism", combining principles and ideas from traditional Chinese opera with elements borrowed from Bertolt Brecht and Konstantin Stanislavski (founder of the Moscow People's Art Theatre).

After the Cultural Revolution, which had disrupted the careers of many theater professionals, the company thrived anew, extending its repertoire into freshly translated works and new works by young Chinese dramatists. The Beijing People's Art Theatre made international headlines in 1983 when Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman premiered with the playwright as guest director. Other plays from the West presented by the Theatre include The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial, The Gin Game, and The Threepenny Opera, Shakespeare's Hamlet, and the recent Broadway/West End hit Copenhagen. Of the new works developed in the past two decades, The World's Top Restaurant (1988) by female dramatist He Jiping has been heralded as a successor to Lao She's Teahouse. The World's Top Restaurant chronicles the history of a Peking roast duck restaurant over the period of half a century.

Teahouse is the cornerstone of the company's repertory, and has been revived several times since its 1958 premiere, which was directed by Jiao Juyin. Since its premiere, Teahouse has had more than 500 performances and been seen by more than 500,000 audience members in China, as well as Asia and Europe.

The Kennedy Center performances mark the company's U.S. debut and the U.S. premiere of Teahouse.


Related Articles
"'Teahouse': Steeped in History": The Washington Post – Washington, DC (Oct. 31, 2005)