Li Longyun

Li Longyun
b. 1948, Beijing
Huaju (spoken-drama) playwright
A notable Chinese playwright since the 1980s, Li was born and grew up in the south district of Beijing. Just as other city students of his generation, he joined in the construction of rural villages during the Cultural Revolution. After spending ten years in northeast China (Manchuria), he was admitted to the Chinese Department in Heilongjiang University in 1978. His first play, There Used to be Such a Small Courtyard (Youzhe yang yige xiaoyuan) aroused national attention when it debuted in 1979.
Because of this piece, Li was able to enrol in the Chinese Department as a graduate student that same year. Upon graduation he entered the Beijing People’s Art Theatre as a professional playwright in 1982. In his most influential plays, ‘Small-Well’ Lane (Xiaojing hutong) and Wasteland and Man (Huang yuan yü ren), Li sought a poetic style in realistic spoken drama (Huaju). ‘Small-Well’ Lane, which was praised as a sequel to Lao She’s Teahouse, describes the daily life of the common inhabitants of ‘Small-Well’ Lane from the eve of Liberation through the early 1980s, without any focus on plot or character. Wasteland and Man was Li’s introspective recollection of over ten years of life in northeast China and a tragedy arising between the young intellectuals and their instructor in the ways of rural life. By blurring theatrical space—time and creating poetic beauty out of a wasteland, this piece revealed the universality that transcends the particularistic backdrop of the Cultural Revolution. Li’s other major plays are: The Yuanmingyuan is Near Here (Zheli bu yuan shi Yuanmingyuan), Under Zheng Hongqi (Zheng Hongqi xia), A Myriad of Twinkling Lights (Wanjia denghuo), and Jiao wo yishengge, wo hui leiluo ruyu (shortened to Jiao wo yishengge on its second run, English translation ‘When You Call Me Big Brother’).

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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