Award-winning troupe from central China will perform on Hays campus during first tour in the United States; event offers vivid flavor of Chinese culture
HAYS, KS -- The rich relationship between Kansas and China will produce a rare opportunity for northwest Kansas residents later this month when Fort Hays State University sponsors a special presentation by the Zheng Zhou Qu Opera Company.
Old House Under the Elms, an adaptation to Chinese folk opera of American playwright Eugene O'Neill's Desire Under the Elms, will be performed at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 28, in the Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center on the FHSU campus.
The tickets are $6 and all seats are unreserved. The tickets are available in the office (second floor) of FHSU's Memorial Union and at the Hays Arts Council, 112 E. 11th. As a bonus for FHSU's 2002-2003 Encore Series, one free ticket to the Aug. 28 special performance by the Zheng Zhou Qu Opera Company will be given with each Encore season ticket purchased. The complimentary tickets, like the $6 tickets, are general admission. There will be no reserved seating for the opera.
Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president, invited the opera company to perform Old House Under the Elms in Hays after he watched the troupe perform the opera during a visit to China in October last year.
Zhengzhou, the home of the opera company, is the capital city of Henan Province, which is a sister state to Kansas. Fort Hays State has been providing distance education classes to the SIAS University of Business and Management in Henan Province for the past four years. Hammond, along with then-Chair of the Kansas Board of Regents Dr. Clay Blair, current Chair Jack Wempe and others, visited China to meet with government and higher education officials.
Kent Steward, director of University Relations at FHSU and a member of the entourage that visited China, said the opera was an overwhelming sensory experience. "If you want to visit China for two hours without having to leave Ellis County, this is your chance," he said. "The Chinese culture dates back thousands of years. For an American, everything there is a new and different experience. The sights, the sounds, the smells and the tastes are all exotic. This opera will give the audience a powerful taste of the unfamiliar beauty of China."
The opera will be performed in Chinese with projections of English subtitles so that the American audience can easily follow the story.
Since its founding in 1950, the Zheng Zhou Qu Opera Company has been hailed as one of the most renowned folk operas in China. Over the years, the troupe has produced many award-winning programs, some of which have toured internationally. China's Qu Opera is known for its beautiful melodies and talented artists. This will be its first tour in the United States. The first performance will be part of the Grand Performances Summer Series on Aug. 24 in Los Angeles. After visiting Hays, the opera company will perform at the University of Iowa in Iowa City and then in St. Louis.
The Zheng Zhou Qu Opera Company will arrive in Hays the night of Tuesday, Aug. 27, and depart the morning of Saturday, Aug. 31. In addition to the performance on Wednesday night, the opera company and members of the FHSU faculty will conduct a workshop on Thursday morning for Ellis County fourth- and fifth-graders.
Brenda Meder, director of the Hays Arts Council, is coordinating the workshop, which will include brief presentations by FHSU faculty about Eugene O'Neill, opera in general and Chinese folk opera, followed with demonstrations by the Chinese opera company.
On Friday, the Hays Convention and Visitors Bureau and university officials are planning a tour of Ellis County for the 23 members of the opera company. The tour aboard the CVB trolley will include stops at Historic Fort Hays, the Cathedral of the Plains, the Hays Arts Council and the Sternberg Museum of Natural History.
Note to Editors/News Directors: Zheng Zhou Qu is pronounced jung joe kwee. Photographs taken during a performance of the opera are available from the Office of University Relations. Kent Steward and others who attended the opera in China would be happy to provide interviews for precede stories. Reporters and photographers are welcome to cover the performance on Wednesday night, the workshop on Thursday morning and the tour of Ellis County on Friday.