“Street Angel”, Chinese classic film from 1937, showing on Sunday at Lit Fest
When we first arrived in Shanghai a long, long time ago, all there was to do on weekends was vogue at Bar Rouge—balancing champagne glasses and tottering around on stilettos while trying to not catch our hair on fire. Well, things have changed. Champagne is no longer as popular and now there is a Barbie shop to vogue around at, plus this weekend our Pearl of the East has oystered out an arts scene involving more than the usual bomb shelters, beer and beavers.
Life X 3 @ MOCA Art Space
Locally-based East West Theater presents Life X 3, a four-character play about a dinner party gone wrong. The dinner guests arrive unexpectedly a day early, there’s no food in the house and good manners go out the window. The hosts insult the guests and the guests insult each other. Three alternate endings demonstrate the possibilities that life presents us when even the smallest of details is varied.
The buzz: this play is supposed to be quite hilarious, plus we usually like events at MOCA and EWT are garnering a reputation for quality work.
Date: March 13-15, 26-27, 29, 8pm
Venue: Art Lab, Museum of Contemporary Art, Gate 7, People’s Park, 231 Nanjing Rd W.
Tickets: 200 yuan, including a glass of wine
Reservations: 13564102955 or email [email protected]
Shanghai International Literary Festival
SILF, not to be confused with BILF (or MILF), kicks off its second weekend lineup. We like SILF because we’ve never seen Glamour Bar by daylight before and the talks remind us fondly of our old days at Yale/Cambridge/Oxford except that the lectures take place in a bar so we can leave the flask at home and don’t need to show up late and hungover. The following are our top picks for lit fest this weekend, for a full lineup, go here. City Weekend is doing a fantastic job of live blogging each of the SILF sessions, so if you miss one, you can read what you missed and podcasts will be available soon. Each session lasts an hour and allows for Q&A period at the end where you can directly ask the author your questions. The books are available for purchase and the author is available for signing. It’s advisable to book ahead, but you can usually get a seat even if you just show up and buy a ticket at the door. Also urbanatomy has done a good brief synopsis of each author and session in their Shanghai Lit Fest ABC guide.
Saturday, March 14
12pm Andrea Lingenfelter, Poetry of Zhai Yongming and Wang Ying: A Bilingual Reading.
As the title suggests the poetry will be read in both its original Chinese and in English. Listen to the poetry of Zhai Yongming and Wang Ying in a bilingual reading with their translator. Zhai’s poetry is renowned for its powerful imagery, forthright voice and criticism of traditional cultural attitudes towards women. Shanghai poet Wang Ying’s poetry is an expression, through vividly physical and tactile imagery, of states of mind.
The buzz: we actually hate poetry, but we’re going because this is supposed to be exceptionally good AND we were impressed with Lingenfelter’s translations of Candy and Farewell My Concubine from Chinese into English.
4pm Thomas McCarthy Poetry, the Irish and a glass of wine or two
Considered one of the most important Irish poets of his generation, the Waterford native writes critical poetry on politics and family.
The buzz: as previously mentioned, we loath poetry. But we do like Irish accents and getting pissed with Irish people.
5pm Sophie Gee Sex and the City in the Eighteenth Century
Sophie Gee dishes on the deliciously scandalous topic of sex and dating in eighteenth century
London from her novel, The Scandal of the Season.
The buzz: we’re hoping it’ll be like Sex in the City, except in 18th century London, so repressed and very kinky with proper accents and maybe a couple of powdered wigs.
Sunday, March 15
11am Mara Moustafine Secrets & Spies: The Harbin Files
This former diplomat and intelligence analyst relates the story of the Russians of China, from Harbin to Stalin’s Soviet Union, via her personal Russian-Jewish family history in her award-winning book, Secrets & Spies.
The buzz: this is supposed to be REALLY interesting, very mysterious, not to missed.
2pm Jonathan Fenby The Past is Always With Us: How China’s Modern History Shapes Its Present.
Former editor of The Observer, The South China Morning Post and author of The Penguin History of Modern China, Fenby will discuss how China’s history impinges on its present—from the 19th century through civil war, revolution, turmoil and the rise of 21st century China.
The buzz: this guy is ridiculously smart. A brain monster. If you live in China, you want to know what he’s got to say.
4pm Jeffrey Wasserstrom Global Shanghai, 1850-2010: A History in Fragments
Shanghai’s past, present and future is explored through the prism of its internationalism. Historian Wasserstrom explores the play of international forces and ideas about Shanghai, looking back to its treaty port days and looking ahead to the World Expo in 2010. The book focuses on seven pivotal years, set a quarter of a century apart, each revealing a layer of the metropolis in a seamless narrative.
The buzz: haven’t really heard anything about this, but it sounds dead interesting.
5pm The Inaugural Great FT Debate: China vs Obama’s America
How will the new U.S. administration impact political, economic and trade relations with China? Will there be conflict in Sino-U.S. relations as the two countries navigate a global economic downturn or will financial hardship unite them to a common cause? Simon Schama, who covered the Obama campaign for BBC and is the author of The American History: A Future, former Financial Times Shanghai and Beijing bureau chief Richard McGregor, Lifen Zhang, editor of FTChinese.com, Jonathan Fenby, author of Penguin History of Modern China and other distinguished panelists. Moderated by Financial Times Beijing bureau chief Geoff
The buzz: SOLD OUT to people who like politics and arguing. So must be good. We’re betting there is standing room, so might just show up anyway and hope for a total cock fight.
6.30pm Festival Film: Street Angels (1937)
A classic of China’s leftist film making period directed by Yuan Muzhi, the film portrays the downtrodden in Shanghai in 1937. Two sisters, Xiao Hong and Xiao Yun, have fled the war in Northeast China to Shanghai, and are living under the brutal thumb of their landlords. Xiao Yun has already been forced into prostitution and her sister is a teahouse singer. When they learn that the landlords plan to sell Xiao Hong to a wealthy patron, they seek help from a neighourhood street musician and his ragtag band of friends.
The buzz: this film is an awesome classic: evil landlords, prostitutes, badass musicians–all the things we love about present-day Shanghai. Perfect for vegging out on a Sunday night.
Address: 6/F, No. 5 The Bund (at Guangdong Lu)
Tickets for each session: 65 RMB, includes a drink
Stay tuned for our authoritative recommendations for the final weekend of lit fest.
Photo of Street Angels from filmbrain.