Contemporary Legend Theatre“108HEROS II -Tales from Water Margin”
Heaven sent a stele inscribed with the names and ranks of the 108 heroic outlaws led by Song Jiang. Inspired by the organisation of ranks in court, they banded together in the "Hall of Loyalty and Chivalry", giving their lawless ways a structure in order to win amnesty from the court.
In this grand assembly the gallant fraternity came to realise the irreconcilable differences entrenched in their hearts. The faction led by Guan Sheng, Zhang Qing, Qin Ming, Hu Yanzhuo, Huang Xin and Yang Zhi, comprised of mostly former senior officers, still felt an overwhelming allegiance to the emperor and his court. However, the other leaders, Lu Zhishen, Lin Chong, Wu Song, Li Kui, Ruan Xiaowu, Yang Xiong and Shi Xiu, who were once foot soldiers, minor officers and common people, harboured other feelings. For them, “Restoring Natural Order” was more than removing the rot, corruption and excessive power that festered in the regions and within the hands of a selected few chief ministers. It was a cause to fight for, a rebellion, to replace the supreme ruler and rule in his stead. On the basis of this fissure, there was a separation that could not be bridged, planting the seed for the dissolution of the heroes of Mount Liang.
The 108 fighters together went through countless baptisms of blood and sweat on the battlefields, their hearts ebbing, swelling with turbulent memories of life; could their conflicts ever be resolved? How would they face, and interpret, the fundamental contradictions inherent in “loyalty and chivalry”?
In 1986, a group of Peking opera players, being keenly aware of the decline of traditional Chinese opera, began thinking seriously how to integrate traditional Chinese opera with modern theatre. Under the artistic director Wu Hsing-kuo, the Contemporary Legend Theatre (CLT) was founded.
Adapted from Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth, The Kingdom of Desire—CLT’s debut—sought to fuse the singing, reciting, acting, and acrobatic fighting of traditional Chinese opera with the Western canon, and to present the performance as modern theatre. The production utterly subverted the playgoers’ expectations of Peking opera and of Shakespeare, and successfully created a totally new intercultural aesthetics.
CLT has worked hard on inheritance and education besides innovation. In 2016, a new troupe: Hsing Legend Youth Theatre is founded to cultivate next talented generation and to develop a more vivid, multiple, cross-border possibility of performance with freedom and creativity.
What defines the CLT is its continual exploration, creation, and dedication to passing down the tradition and strengthening its roots, and that makes the troupe a contemporary legend.