CBD takes a dramatic turn at new theater
Published: Jul 13, 2011 09:22 AM
Plato Theater at Oriental Media Center. Photo: Wang Feifan

Beijing's central business district (CBD) is more famous for profits than plays. But the opening of the new Plato Theater in the Oriental Media Center, run by the X-square Drama Studio is another step in the district's quiet quest to be Beijing's Broadway.

There's already a surprising amount of theaters in the CBD. Just north of the Plato Theater on the other side of Chaoyang Lu is the Nine Theater, popular with small dramatic companies year-round. To the west is the year-old Dayin Theater, while near the Communications University of China is the 1919 Theater, situated in, as its name suggests, a newly renovated 92-year-old building.

But can the Plato Theater make a profit in this business-driven neighborhood? Manager Guan Moxuan, a former actor who performed in the studio's signature play You Duo Shao Ai Ke Yi Hu Lai ("How much love can you waste?") said he was confident that office workers in the CBD would be willing to fork over the cash for a fun night at a theater so close to their workplace.

"Our studio has worked on small theater production for years. And people like to see our plays, such as You Duo Shao Ai Ke Yi Hu Lai, which we're staging now," said Guan. An ordinary ticket in the 300-seat theater goes for 150 yuan ($23.17), nearly twice the price of a cinema ticket, while VIP seats cost 320 yuan.  

The media has often criticized high-priced theater tickets. But Guan thinks the prices are reasonable. "Our rental costs may be the highest in the town. Besides, we have the latest VDOSC sound effect system to make sure that people in the last row can enjoy the same sound as those sitting in the first row," he told the Global Times.

At present, the studio has five small theaters scattered across Beijing, allowing them to introduce more innovative new plays, whether from China or overseas. They will open a new theater in the Liangmaqiao area in September.

From July 28, the theater will stage the new play One City, written by popular young playwright, blogger, and racing driver Han Han.