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Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove

Yung Ho Chang

A​ ​mise​ ​en​ ​scène​ ​of​ ​scaffoldings​ ​and​ ​costumes​ ​tells​ ​narrates​ ​an​ ​old chinese​ ​legend.


Based​ ​on​ ​an​ ​old​ ​legend​ ​from​ ​the​ ​Chinese​ ​Wei-Jin​ ​period,​ ​"Seven​ ​Sages of​ ​the​ ​Bamboo​ ​Grove"​ ​is​ ​the​ ​first​ ​involvement​ ​of​ ​Atelier​ ​FCJZ​ ​in performance​ ​art,​ ​designing​ ​both​ ​stages​ ​and​ ​costumes​ ​for​ ​the​ ​Xinchan Drama​ ​Art​ ​Company.

The​ ​play​ ​tells​ ​the​ ​story​ ​of​ ​the​ ​usurpation​ ​of​ ​Cao​ ​by​ ​the​ ​Si-ma​ ​family​ ​and the​ ​consequent​ ​reaction​ ​of​ ​seven​ ​Chinese​ ​literati:​ ​some​ ​of​ ​them continued​ ​to​ ​serve​ ​the​ ​new​ ​imperial​ ​power,​ ​while​ ​some​ ​whitedrew​ ​into seclusion.The​ ​project​ ​of​ ​Atelier​ ​FCJZ​ ​is​ ​to​ ​deliver​ ​to​ ​the​ ​viewer​ ​a​ ​highly​ ​abstracted concept​ ​of​ ​space​ ​and​ ​time.​ ​The​ ​play​ ​can​ ​be​ ​experienced​ ​with​ ​a four-sided​ ​view​ ​thanks​ ​to​ ​the​ ​stage,​ ​constructed​ ​with​ ​a​ ​system​ ​of scaffoldings​ ​that​ ​simulates​ ​both​ ​a​ ​bamboo​ ​grove​ ​(as​ ​the​ ​title​ ​suggests) and​ ​the​ ​columns​ ​of​ ​the​ ​palaces​ ​where​ ​the​ ​action​ ​takes​ ​place.

The​ ​video​ ​provides​ ​documentation​ ​of​ ​the​ ​performance,​ ​which​ ​took​ ​place at​ ​the​ ​China​ ​Millennium​ ​Monument​ ​in​ ​Beijing​ ​in​ ​the​ ​April​ ​of​ ​2015:​ ​with​ ​its fast​ ​pace​ ​and​ ​fragmented​ ​narration,​ ​the​ ​video​ ​enhances​ ​the experimentation​ ​made​ ​using​ ​costumes​ ​and​ ​scaffoldings,​ ​being​ ​able​ ​to show​ ​the​ ​possibilities​ ​given​ ​by​ ​the​ ​four-sided​ ​view​ ​of​ ​the​ ​stage​ ​and​ ​its multiple​ ​arrangements. As​ ​a​ ​matter​ ​of​ ​fact,​ ​the​ ​video​ ​shows​ ​the​ ​use​ ​of​ ​movable​ ​props,​ ​such​ ​as the​ ​moon,​ ​mountains​ ​and​ ​clouds,​ ​which​ ​contributes​ ​to​ ​the​ ​ambience​ ​of the​ ​bamboo​ ​grove​ ​setting,​ ​while​ ​the​ ​most​ ​amazing​ ​feature​ ​includes​ ​a large​ ​spinning​ ​turbine​ ​that​ ​mimics​ ​the​ ​internal​ ​struggles​ ​of​ ​every​ ​single characters.​ ​In​ ​its​ ​brevity,​ ​the​ ​video​ ​aims​ ​to​ ​portrait​ ​the​ ​struggle​ ​of​ ​the different​ ​struggles​ ​of​ ​characters,​ ​delivered​ ​to​ ​the​ ​viewer​ ​by​ ​the​ ​intelligent use​ ​of​ ​colours​ ​and​ ​shapes​ ​in​ ​creating​ ​the​ ​costumes.​ ​In​ ​order​ ​to​ ​do​ ​this, Atelier​ ​FCJZ​ ​assigned​ ​a​ ​colour​ ​to​ ​each​ ​different​ ​group​ ​of​ ​characters​ ​of the​ ​play:​ ​the​ ​weakening​ ​Cao​ ​family​ ​is​ ​dressed​ ​in​ ​black,​ ​the​ ​usurper Si-Ma​ ​wears​ ​red​ ​and​ ​the​ ​Seven​ ​Sages​ ​all​ ​wear​ ​identical​ ​white​ ​hollow tubes.​ ​What's​ ​more,​ ​every​ ​tube​ ​is​ ​provided​ ​with​ ​seven​ ​openings​ ​so​ ​that different​ ​configurations​ ​are​ ​made​ ​possible​ ​and​ ​clothes​ ​with​ ​multiple layers​ ​are​ ​given​ ​to​ ​the​ ​most​ ​complex​ ​characters​ ​(such​ ​as​ ​Princess​ ​Cao Wen,​ ​who​ ​married​ ​Ji​ ​Kang​ ​and​ ​wears​ ​a​ ​white​ ​dress​ ​over​ ​a​ ​black​ ​gown).

As​ ​a​ ​long​ ​time​ ​interpreter​ ​of​ ​literary​ ​themes,​ ​Yung​ ​Ho​ ​Chang​ ​has​ ​already proven​ ​its​ ​sensitivity​ ​towards​ ​tradition​ ​and​ ​its​ ​capability​ ​of​ m​​etteur​ ​en scène​​ ​in​ ​video​ ​such​ ​as​ Enjoying / 影捉影​ ​and​ ​The​ ​Third​ ​Police​ ​Station.​ ​With "Seven​ ​Sages​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Bamboo​ ​Grove"​ ​goes​ ​a​ ​step​ ​further​ ​recreating​ ​a powerful​ ​architectonic​ ​space​ ​from​ ​scratch,​ ​using​ ​only​ ​scaffoldings, plywood​ ​boards​ ​and​ ​space​ ​cotton.

(Story by Sara Marzullo, The Architecture Player)

Authors icon Credits

Architect: Yung Ho Chang
Mentioned project: Seven Stage of the Bamboo Grove (2015)
Design Team: Zhang Linmiao, Ji Yaqiong, Xing Dawei
Video production: Evita Ji, Alan Leei
Performance site: The China Millennium Monument, Beijing
Cooperation: Xinchan Drama Art co., ltd.

China 2016
Duration: 2'18''