Opening of the exhibition “Dialogue Across Time and Space: Homage to Tang Xianzu and William Shakespeare”

In 1616, two brilliant playwrights disappeared: William Shakespeare and Tang Xianzu. Even though they lived 10 000 kilometers apart and never met, they led a very similar career…

The China Cultural Center inaugurated yesterday “Dialogue Across Time and Space”, a new exhibition paying tribute to two masters of literature: William Shakespeare and Tang Xianzu. Born in the same era, both leading figures of the artistic renaissance taking place in their respective countries, and sharing striking similarities in their work and writing style…. If these two had met they would have had a lot to say to each other. That meeting never took place, until today and 400 years after their death ! As the saying goes, better late than never…

On this occasion, the Center had the honour to welcome Mrs Claire Chantrenne, musicologist and curator of the Asian collections at the Museum of Music Instrument (MIM) in Brussels. During her speech, she highlighted the very different conception that Europe and Asia have of opera and theater genre. For example, European plays are performed in one evening while Chinese opera could last for several days! A first encounter with Chinese opera can be also disconcerting for European ears due to the singing style, the costumes, the makeup, the gestures, the sound of the music instruments… Hence, Mrs Chantrenne advised the audience to listen to it without any prejudice and to take the time to discover this very particular art and: “[…] after a while you will appreciate the beauty and refinement of this universe.”.

During their visit of the exhibition, and thanks to the Virtual Reality glasses at their disposal, the guests had the opportunity to travel across time, and space of course, to explore the world of Tang Xianzu. The high-tech and very fashionable devices allowed them to visit Tang’s working office and immerse themselves in the atmosphere of ancient China. Another set of glasses transported them into a Chinese courtyard to attend a Kunqu Opera performance without even setting a foot out of the Cultural Center!

Several Ipads also display documentaries about the distinctive features of Kunqu Opera such as the elegant gestures and intricate costumes and makeup. And finally, in another room the visitors could also sit back and enjoy a piece of Tang’s most famous opera: The Peony Pavilion.

“Dialogue Across Time and Space” will be hosted until the October 15th at the China Cultural Center. During that period, several related side events will be organised : 3 Kunqu Opera performances and a special Chinese Movie Night about Chinese Opera .

Opening hours of the exhibition

Monday to Wednesday :  09:30 – 20:00
Thursday and Friday : 09:30 – 18:00
Free entrance