Shanghai troupe says to continue to dream big despite challenges
Wang Siwen

Theater's charm lies in live performance; drama lovers are eager to return to the theater, but it's become a challenge for those staging plays.

Shi Yuting, founder and director of DALU Theatre, said one challenge is the rehearsal and performance venue. Many places remain closed because of the pandemic. Some teams do rehearsals online. They have also done some online script readings.

This play is called "one person, one play" and features actors telling a story from the audience. Impromptu lines, music, and dances offer a unique experience to the audience. As a small theater troupe, Dalu was founded in 2018. Zhou Wei has been with the team since the beginning and has become a key member.

"In the beginning, we were only three or four people. I still remember once the promised venue was occupied, and we could not use it. So, four of us just stayed outside in the winter and practiced telling stories," Zhou said.

Almost all the team members have jobs and go to the theater after work. They say people's stories enrich their spiritual lives.

"We are all small members of society and have our jobs and expertise. Theater, for us, is more like food for the soul. It does not fill our stomach but fosters our spirit," Zhou said.

Shanghai has many independent theaters like Dalu. The pandemic has made things difficult, especially for private performances. However, it's not stopped people from the industry from pursuing their dreams.

"Local groups in Shanghai, or others like white-collar dramas and professional theaters, are suspended due to the pandemic. I think it's just temporary because their passion for theater is always there. We can feel it. Locally, we have a college student drama alliance and drama festival for college students, even junior high school students. There may be some difficulties, but the industry will continue to grow in the future," Shi noted.

She says there are things they can do to survive these challenging times, like joining hands with other artists or sharing spaces, but no matter what challenges they face, they will continue to dream big.

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