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Beyond Cultural Roles

Chinese theater director Chen Shi-Zheng on how tradition, social issues and innovation play important parts in his work

By Xie Yi Updated Apr.11


Known for works that transcend East and West, award-winning director Chen Shi-Zheng turns perceived disadvantages of cultural differences into artistic inspiration.

In 1999, Chen’s theatrical adaptation of The Peony Pavilion, a 400-year-old Kunqu opera, received critical acclaim at the Lincoln Center Festival. He has since worked on numerous productions for the screen and stage that mix Western and Chinese elements. 

Chen is currently preparing for the New York debut of his latest effort, Dragon Spring Phoenix Rise. Boasting an all-star production team and co-conceived with Kung Fu Panda screenwriters Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger, the musical tells a futuristic story of Chinese-Americans in New York that explores themes such as immigration and cultural hybridity.