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Modern China / Trip Ideas

Top 6 theatres in Beijing

By Minjun Xu

September 6

There is a Chinese saying that goes like this: Life is like a drama, while a drama is like life.

There is a Chinese saying that goes like this: Life is like a drama, while a drama is like life.

Beijing has numerous theatres ranging from the internationally acclaimed National Theatre to independent, experimental folk stages. Here are six we recommend you visit.

1. Beijing People’s Art Theatre北京人民艺术剧院

On the bustling Wangfujing Street, Beijing People’s Art Theatre has a reputation for producing masterpieces including Thunderstorm (雷雨), The Bus Stop (车站), and Teahouse (茶馆). Housing the Capital Theatre and the Experimental Theatre under one roof, it offers a myriad of classic dramas and modern plays. It also has art salons and a café for exhibitions.

How to get there: Take Bus 101, 103,108, 112, or 803 and get off at Art Museum station, or; take metro line 5 and get off at Dongsi station.

2. National Vanguard Theatre 国话先锋剧场

The National Vanguard Theatre, located to the east of Oriental Square, is a branch of the National Theatre of China. As one of the oldest studio theatres in Beijing, the Vanguard Theatre holds up to 320 visitors, and boasts a number of advanced facilities for stage performance. Because of its proximity to the Oriental Plaza Shopping Centre, it stages a lot of modern plays aimed at a younger crowd.

How to get there: Take Bus 1, 4, or 420 and get off at Dongdan station, or; take metro line 1 and get off at Wangfujing station.

Modern play: The Piano in a Factory [Image Credit: cfp]
Modern play: The Piano in a Factory [Image Credit: CFP]

3. Fengchao Theatre 蜂巢剧场

The Fengchao Theatre is a relatively new theatre built by the famous avant-garde theatre director Meng Jinghui (孟京辉) specially for his classic play Rhinoceros in Love (恋爱中的犀牛). Each year, Fengchao Theatre holds the Beijing Fringe Festival, and has witnessed the development of numerous young theatre directors. For those interested in avant-garde drama, the Fengchao Theatre is an iconic place that is not to be missed.

How to get there: Take Bus 24, 44, 75 or 106 and get off at Dongzhimen station, or; take metro line 2 to there.

4. National Centre for the Performing Arts 国家大剧院

Known as “The Giant Egg”, the National Centre for the Performing Arts is a landmark building situated along West Chang’an Street in the core of Beijing. This art center consists of a theatre, a studio theatre, a music hall and an opera house, which have a combined seating of over 5,000. The National Centre for the Performing Arts not only brings in high-quality foreign drama and operas, but also produces many original plays.

How to get there: Take Bus 10 or 22, and get off at Shipai Hutong station, or; take metro line 1 and get off at Tiananmen station.

Classic play: White Deer Plain [Image Credit: cfp]
Classic play: White Deer Plain [Image Credit: CFP]

5. Poly Theatre 保利剧院

Opened in 1991, the Poly Theatre, with its top-ranking facilities and services, has become the first choice for many classic repertoires both in China and abroad, such as Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land, Swan Lake, and Mamma Mia. The theatre also offers high-quality art exhibitions.

How to get there: Take Bus.42, 44, 113 or S2, and get off at Dongsi Shitiao station.

6. Penghao Theatre 蓬蒿剧场

Hidden in a traditional courtyard in the Dongmianhua Hutong, Penghao Theatre is the first folk theatre in Beijing. Since August 2008, it has staged more than 200 plays and over 1500 performances. As an independent studio theatre, Penghao makes it possible for people to enjoy drama at a relatively low cost.

How to get there: Take Bus 758, 104 or 103, and get off at Bei Bingmasi station.

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