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Lakeside dramas

  • Source: Global Times
  • [23:09 July 28 2010]
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The 30 meters Memorial Wall and its creator Mai Dian. Photos: June Lee

By Zhang Lei

A diving platform isn't usually a stage, but when the swimming area at Wuhan's East Lake in Hubei Province was transformed into a theatre on July 14, the audience seemed happy. As the driving rain stopped, the drama began with love songs played by street musicians, soon attracting a crowd of passersby.

As part of the ongoing art project Everyone's East Lake, the drama Free XX, is a "social drama" created by dramatist Wu Meng, who was inspired by the news in late March that 450 acres of East Lake were going to be filled up and built into a theme park by Overseas Chinese Town (OCT), a Shenzhen-based real estate developer.

Born in Suzhou, a city of rivers and lakes in Jiangsu Province, Wu has a special attachment to water. She came to Wuhan, the capital of Hubei Province, to work with local theatrical troupes on the project. The lakeside stage was a surprise for her. "It is hard to find a place like this in Shanghai, where nine out of ten venues refused to provide space for us," said Wu, a member of a Shanghai grassroots theatrical troupe called Grass Stage.

In Hubei, known as the "land of a thousand lakes," the waterside stage provides a perfect place for public performances.

The loud guitar sounds didn't attract the city authorities, but locals enjoy the lake view after work. Unlike many other city lakes where swimming is banned, East Lake is vast, wild and free. Swimsuits, floating rings and inflatable boats are available to visitors.

"I have swum in the lake since I was a small boy," said Liu Lei, a native in Wuhan. "But now the water is getting dirty, so I seldom swim here."

Liu hadn't heard that part of the lake was going to be filled to create the resort. OCT claimed they would provide a free park on the site, but locals were skeptical. He said even if the site was open to the public, the high-priced ticket (160 yuan or $24) would turn them away.

Liu Zhenyu, 25, a BMX bike enthusiast, said he was thrilled to hear that there would be a skate park in the park at first, but later realized that East Lake couldn't be sacrificed for mere amusement.

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