She and They: Wei Haimin and Chinese Opera in Our Time — Lecture
Speaker: Wei Haimin, World-Renowned Dan Opera Performer
Lening Liu, Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures; Director of the Chinese Language Program, Columbia University
Ying Qian, Associate Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures, East Asian Languages & Cultures, Columbia University
Ms. Wei will lecture on and demonstrate the artistic features of Master Mei Lanfang’s “Dan” opera performance, and reflect upon her own career as an opera performer of the Mei tradition in today’s Taiwan. Drawing from her own performances in “The City of Desire” (Lady Macbeth in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”), “Woman from Loulan” (Medea in the Greek tragedy “Medea”), “The Story of the Golden Lock” (Cao Qiqiao in Zhang Ailing’s “The Story of the Golden Lock”) and others, Ms. Wei’s master class allows us to learn about Chinese opera from one of its leading practitioners today while offering an introduction to Taiwan’s vibrant culture of contemporary theater.
Speaker’s Bio: An internationally renowned performing artist, Wei Hai-Min is an heir of the Mei School established by Mei Lanfang the lead actor of the GuoGuang Opera Company and the Contemporary Legend Theatre in Taiwan, and the director of the Wei Hai-Min Chinese Opera Foundation. Wei studied with Zhou Ming-xin in her childhood, with Qin Hui-fen in later years, and with Chen Yongling and Tong Zhiling after graduating from school. In 1991, Wei became Mei Baojiu’s first official disciple. She has solid training in the Mei School and excels in interpreting and impersonating diverse roles, both ancient and modern, in the Mei School and other performing styles.
Since the 1980s, Ms. Wei has performed in more than one hundred Chinese Opera shows. Her repertoire includes Mu Guiying Takes Command, The Drunken Concubine, The White Snake, Return of the Phoenix, and Farewell, My Concubine. She has starred in Contemporary Legend Theatre’s rendition of Greek tragedies and Shakespearean plays such as The Kingdom of Desire, and Medea, explored innovative environmental theater with director Richard Schechner in Oresteia, and collaborated with American experimental playwright-director Robert Wilson in the Chinese Opera reinterpretation of Orlando by Virginia Woolf. While Chinese Opera now competes not only with films and television but also with new forms of entertainment such as multimedia and metaverse, Ms. Wei believes that the quintessence of Chinese Opera art, its lyricism, and beauty, continues to inspire and enlighten modern audiences and that tradition and innovation are not oppositional and are equally important.
Ms. Wei has won numerous awards and accolades, most notably the Plum Blossom Award, the highest honor for traditional Chinese theater in China, the National Award for Arts in Taiwan, the Global Chinese Culture Art Contribution Award, and the Outstanding Asian Artist Prize from the Society of Chinese American Culture and Arts. She is a household name in Taiwan.
Location: Uris Hall
Time: 6:00 — 7:30 pm EDT