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Staging the unconventional

By Zhang Kun | China Daily | Updated: 2021-12-31 08:22
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Shanghai has announced 100 new settings for live performances, as the city sees an increasing number of music, theater and talk shows taking place in malls, cafes, bookstores and other unconventional locations. [Photo/China Daily]

Instead of being confined to traditional spaces like theaters, live performances such as stand-up comedies, improvisational dramas and even immersive theater shows are now increasingly being held in venues like shopping malls, office buildings and residential areas in Shanghai.

On Dec 23, the municipality announced that 100 new spaces for live performing arts have been opened this year. On the list are jazz bars, teahouses, bookshops and outdoor theaters. These new spaces will "play an important part in building Shanghai into an Asian center of performing art", and bring art and performance close to people, according to the municipal administration for culture and tourism.

For example, the Asia Building at 650 Hankou Road, just off People's Square in the center of Shanghai, may seem like an ordinary commercial building in the day, but the venue undergoes a stark transformation at night when crowds form at the gate as people swarm to catch shows in the mini theaters there.

The most popular of these shows is the immersive theater production Apollonia. Adapted from the South Korean musical Mia Famiglia, the show is set during the prohibition era in the United States and tells the story of a pub that is about to close down. In the show, the three actors play 12 characters who sing and dance among audience.

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