Whether or not you have a proclivity for the theater, your time in Guangzhou will be enriched if you take in a performance or two. Chinese theater history is rich and well-developed. Traditional Chinese dramas usually center on political and court intrigue, and military heroics, often relating historical events from the nation's past. More modern Chinese dramas range from the traditional and the avant-garde; sometimes Western-influenced, and other times relying on time-tested formulas and techniques. While dramas are struggling to compete with TV and movies, you can still find regular performances in Guangzhou, including contemporary plays which give a glimpse into the social and cultural changes in the country.
Chinese opera, despite its near disappearance during the Cultural Revolution, is now popular throughout most of the country again. Likely originating during the Qin Dynasty, Chinese opera is most known to foreigners for its array of brilliant colors and trembling vocal style. In Guangzhou alone, you can see many styles of Chinese opera. Local Cantonese opera itself is distinct: Cantonese performers blend northern styles with local melodies, Western tunes and even gymnastics. Visually, Chinese opera is stunning. It’s best to read up before you go, as its elements are deeply symbolic, each color and stylized movement representing an idea or emotion.
You can enjoy theater and dance, international and local, at these six well-known venues in Guangzhou. Several are close to the town's center, and one, the Guangzhou Opera House, is an architectural highlight of the city.
No. 13 Theater 13号剧院 View In Map
No. 13 Theater shows dramas exclusively, most of them depicting contemporary life. Built in 1970, the theater belongs to Guangzhou Drama Group, a troupe of nearly one hundred actors who perform almost all of the dramas there. The 300-seat theater contains some of the most modern imported equipment, and they recently installed a fully-rotating stage. They do not currently show acts in English, but the management is considering it for the future. The average price of a show here is 60-100 RMB, very reasonable for Guangzhou.
The Guangzhou Drama Group, which performs nearly every weekend at No. 13 Theater, is as acclaimed as the theater itself, having won more than 40 awards, including best director, best actor, best stage design, best story and best playwright.
Add: No.13 Shaheding New Second Street, Tianhe District, Guangzhou
Tel: 020 8725 8626
Getting there: Take Bus No. 85, 11, 201, 219, 112, 246, 833, 27, 65, 84A, 290 or 236. Get off at Shaheding bus stop and walk about 5 minutes toward Xianliedong Lu. You will find the theater's sign on your left
Sapphire Art Space 蓝宝石展艺馆 View In Map
The 200-seat Sapphire Art Space was actually a movie theater between 1990 and 2005, but is now a multi-functional space for theater, dance, concerts, art exhibitions and cocktail parties. You can even still catch a movie here from time to time.
Sapphire Art Space has its own newly-formed art group who specialize in developing local drama talent, and producing high-quality plays. They put on plays roughly one week per month, giving a performance nearly every day.
Add: 2/F Holiday Inn Hotel, No. 28 Guangming Lu,, Huanshidong Village, Yuexiu District, Guangzhou
Tel: 020 6122 3111/3288
Price Range: 60-300 RMB
Bus: Take Bus No. 63, 550, 545, 886, 290, 278 or B2. Get off at the Garden Hotel stop and walk toward Xianliezhong Lu. When you pass the first crossing you will see the Cultural Holiday Hotel on your left. The theater is on the 2nd floor
Metro: Take metro Line 5 and get off at Taojin Road station, Exit A. Walk toward Xianliezhong Road. After about 1,000 meters you will find the Cultural Holiday Hotel on your left
Friendship Theater 友谊剧院 View In Map
Friendship Theater was built in 1965, and for most of its history was known as the largest and most famous theater in Guangdong Province, even building a following overseas. Chinese garden-style decor blended with modern architecture has helped make it fashionable, comfortable and very successful. The theater has just finished undergoing a year-long restoration, and should be open again to the general public within a month of this writing. With an expanded stage, and 200 fewer seats, the new five-star Friendship Theater can still hold over 1,300 theater-goers.
Friendship Theater, which belongs to Guangdong Provincial Art Center, is widely multi-functional. Its theater shows are mostly Chinese opera and dramas, but it also puts on concerts and international dance performances. Tickets range from 60-580 RMB.
Add: No. 698 Renminbei Lu, Yuexiu District, Guangzhou
Tel: 020 8666 2743/8667 9898/8364 0709
Bus: Take Bus No. 33 or 203 and get off at Jiaoyihui (Trade Fair). Walk toward Guangzhou Railway Station and you will immediately find the theater on your right
Metro: Take metro Line 2 to Guangzhou Railway Station, Exit D4. Walk toward Huanshizhong Road, turn right at the second corner and walk toward Renminzhong Lu about 800 meters. The theater will be on your left
Guangzhou Opera House 广州大剧院 View In Map
Designed by world-famous architect Zaha Hadid, and needing a full six years to build, the Guangzhou Opera House is set to become one of Guangzhou's New Seven Landmarks. The theater looks like two glowing, oblong stones, sitting beside the Pearl River. The larger stone contains the main, 1,800-seat theater, art exhibition hall and recording studio. The smaller stone houses a multi-functional 400-seat theater, with rotating stage.
Guangdong Opera House hosts a variety of performances, large and small, national and international. Depending on the month, the opera house holds between four and twelve shows, mostly Chinese opera, Chinese drama, concerts and modern dance.
Add: No.1 Zhujiang Xi Lu, Zhujiang New Town, Tianhe District, Guanghzou
Telephone: 020 3839-2888, 3839-2342, 3839-2347
Price Range: 50-2,880 RMB
Bus: Take Bus No. 407. Get off at Guangzhou Da Ju Yuan Xi Men (west gate of Guangzhou Opera House) bus stop. Or take Bus No. 40 to Guangzhou Da Ju Yuan Zheng Men (main gate of Guangzhou Opera House) bus terminal
Metro: Take metro Line 3 to Zhujiang New Town, B exit. Walk toward the river about 200 meters and you will find the west gate of Opera House on your left
Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall 中山音乐堂 View In Map
A stunning piece of history close to the center of Guangzhou, Sun-Yat Sen Memorial Hall dates back to 1931 when it was used more frequently for political meetings and commemorative activities than for art. In 1945 it was the site where the Japanese signed their surrender agreement. Today it is a multi-functional venue, and frequently holds large-scale national and international performances.
Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall has held some of Guangzhou's largest shows. It’s also one of the largest theaters, seating more than 3,000 people. Because of the quality of its shows and its history, the memorial hall is one of the most respected performance spaces in China.
Add: No. 259 Dongfengzhong Lu, Yuexiu District, Guangzhou
Tel: 020 8355 2030
Bus: Take Bus No. B3, 74, 261, 83, 2, 56, 62, 80, 85, 133, 185, 276, 204, 209, B4 or 299 to the Zhong Shan Ji Nian Tang (Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall) bus stop. You will find the main gate by the stop
Metro: Take Metro Line 2 to Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall station, Exit C. Walk toward Yingyuan Road, after about 50 meters you will find the west gate on your right
Price Range: 50-880 RMB
Huang Hua Gang Theater黄花岗剧院 View In Map
Built in 1983 with investments from the Guangzhou Air Force, this 1500-seat theater is one of the best venues to see drama and Chinese opera, which make up most of its fare. Huang Hua Gang Theater aims to put on quality national performances, but because of equipment limitations and other reasons, does few large international shows.
Add: No.96 Xianlie Zhong Lu, Yuexiu District, Guangzhou
Tel: 020 8735 3857/3836 2199
Getting there: Take Bus No. 209, 236, 85, 65, 11, 285, 201, 271, 219, 192, 6, 223, 112, 220, 78, 74, 522, 522A, 92, 833 or 862B bus. Get off at Huang Hua Gang bus stop and you will find the theater next to the stop
Price Range: 50-580 RMB
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Keywords: Guangzhou best theaters arts venues Guangzhou where to see plays Guangzhou Guangzhou theaters Guangzhou performance hall
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