The exterior design of the Dahua City Performing Arts Center adopts the Art Deco classical architectural style.Photography/Beijing News reporter Liu Zhen
In the front hall on the first floor, there will be small performances of about 2-3 people in the future for passers-by to enjoy.
The sound field of the opera hall has been rigorously tested to ensure that the sound from the stage is the same in every position.
The stage in the form of a theater runway has audience seats on three sides.
Demystifying Dahua City
Performing Arts Center
Dahua Cinema, a landmark building with a history of 96 years, has now “transformed” into a comprehensive art institution integrating performance venues, literary and art groups, and performance brokerage agencies – Dahua City Performing Arts Center. During the trial operation of the Art Center, a reporter from the Beijing News interviewed Yi Liming, the artistic director, to reveal how to create an urban theater.
The main building of Dahua City Performing Arts Center was built in 1926, formerly known as Dahua Cinema. In the 1980s, it was a veritable first-tier cinema. In 2008, due to the aging of the building structure, from a safety point of view, the theater was suspended and began to undergo a comprehensive renovation. Today, this “Dahua” building, which carries the feelings of several generations of citizens, has been transformed into a comprehensive performing arts center with six performance spaces, two exhibition halls, a cafe, a drama bar and several cultural and creative spaces.
Make going to the theater to watch a play a way of life for the citizens
Standing on Dongdan North Street, the Dahua City Performing Arts Center still retains the original Art Deco of the old cinema (Editor’s Note: The Art Deco style popular in the 1920s and 1930s, with geometric figures, clear lines and bright colors. ) Classical architectural style, and the door faces the bustling road of Dongdan. In Yi Liming’s view, this style of theater facing the street brings the audience closer to the city. People walking on the street can enter the theater with a little step and listen to other people’s sad or happy stories. The performance is over. Immediately after that, it returned to reality.
Entering the Dahua City Performing Arts Center, the first thing that catches your eye is a front hall with a small space. Part of the front hall is used for the services of storing bags and collecting tickets after the audience enters the theater, while bars and cafes, etc. Functional facilities are also readily available.
Yi Liming believes that the characteristic of the city theater is to allow the audience to enter it, have a leisurely cup of coffee before the performance, and chat here while waiting for others. When they heard the first ringing of the theater bell, they went to the checkout and walked into the theater without a hurry. This is called turning theater watching into a way of life.
At the same time, in the overall design concept of the art center, Yi Liming also made an unwritten rule with all the cooperating contracted actors. After the performance, it is not allowed to remove makeup and go home immediately. comminicate. In Yi Liming’s view, this is not the so-called “after-show talk”, but hopes that everyone can continue to integrate into the atmosphere of the play after watching the play. “In the past, actors and audiences always communicated at a long distance, but I think that communication is just drinking and chatting for a while.”
For a Dahua City Performing Arts Center transformed from a movie theater, one of the questions Yi Liming was often asked at the beginning of the transformation was, “How to transform a small movie theater into a theater?” In Liming’s philosophy, theatrical performances do not need a large space. He explained that the charm of drama lies in the fact that it can play the whole world. One or two actors can even play all human beings, regardless of the size of the space. “The theater is historically a human building, with human space and scale.”
As a designer of an art center in a modern city, when Yi Liming talks about transforming a theater, he must take into account the needs of many different groups of people. “That’s right! Youth is the future, but the whole society can’t be all young people, and older people must also be considered.” Therefore, a five-story elevator has been specially set up in the entire art center, which can be convenient for older people, Spectators with handicapped legs go to different floors to watch the show.
Dahua City Performing Arts Center is adjacent to Xiehe Hospital and close to the core residential area of Beijing. To this end, Yi Liming also specially planned the “Medical Victory Trilogy” – “Doctor Konok”, “Frankenstein” and “Which One Am I”, and the series has already performed “Doctor Konok”. How to make art have a deep relationship and connection with a city and its residents? This is the concept that Yi Liming has been practicing when designing, renovating and operating the Dahua City Performing Arts Center.
The stage in the form of a theater runway allows the audience to have an immersive experience
Among the six performance spaces of the Dahua City Performing Arts Center, the largest opera hall is reconstructed on the basis of the main hall of the original cinema. It not only has a framed stage and a liftable orchestra pit, but also has a total of 550 seats on the upper and lower floors of the auditorium. Since it was formerly a theater, before the renovation of the theater, designer Yi Liming and his design team made a line of sight analysis for the entire theater, and after raising the main body, enough space was reserved for the concert hall on the first floor. . In terms of acoustics, the opera house has also undergone strict acoustic transformation. Yi Liming believes that the advantage of high height is that the direct sound can be transmitted very smoothly. He used a sound field machine and a decibel meter to test the sound field of the upper and lower floors of the theater. , the results show no difference.
There are auditoriums on three sides of the stage in the form of the stage of the theater, which can accommodate more than 290 people, which not only allows the audience to have a close-up immersive experience, but also leaves a lot of possibilities for performances; the design is inspired by the ancient Roman theater The ring theater, with 197 seats, can not only perform small theater plays, but also conduct small speech activities. Yi Liming believes that compared with other theaters, the ring theater has relatively less sound requirements, because it is a theater built for pure language works, so it pays more attention to the clarity of the actors’ language. In addition to the three performance spaces with fixed auditoriums and stages, there are also three more flexible and open performance spaces, which are the concert hall, the sky theater for open-air performances, and the experimental theater.
In addition, the Dahua City Performing Arts Center has more than ten rehearsal spaces of various sizes, which can be “transformed” into art areas with different functions at any time. When it comes to the concert hall, Yi Liming also revealed that four collaborative operas will be staged here from September to October this year. In his opinion, the value of this concert hall is not the size of the space, but the sound. “I’ve had artists describe to me that singing here is like being in a bathhouse. I think that means we’re doing a good job of evenness of the acoustics, because I’ve always felt that the best concert hall is a bathhouse.”
From the drawing of the drawings to the present, the overall renovation of the Dahua City Performing Arts Center took two years. Looking back on the whole process, Yi Liming admitted that there are many challenges. As a cinema with a history of nearly 100 years, during the renovation process, the main structure cannot be moved first, and it can only be reinforced on the original basis. In addition, the re-introduction of the original space is also one of the key tasks. Since the original cinema has many small projection halls and there is not much room for stretching, these places are one of the difficulties in the renovation process. Yi Liming hopes that everyone in the Dahua City Performing Arts Center will feel that art is not far away in the future, and that art will eventually become everyone’s way of life. “Art can be big or small. When a person has a certain motive, art already exists. When a nation or a city begins its artistic temperament, the city must be free, romantic and developed because everyone is living happily.”
Since it is called a “Performing Arts Center”, Yi Liming believes that it is not as simple as having two or three theaters. The overall hardware and software here must conform to all types of performing arts at present. In Yi Liming’s view, since the drama of excluding people, the main thing is to communicate with people, not with some concepts. “Of course the big theater has great advantages, and it can rehearse some grand themed works, but since we define it as an urban performing arts center, we serve the city’s moving stories and fascinating Chinese narratives. The identity of the host and the audience can be interchanged at any time, but the interaction The end point is the story.”
Yi Liming, Artistic Director of Dahua City Performing Arts Center:
The scale of artistic service is the scale of people
Beijing News: What new things do you hope the completion of the Performing Arts Center can bring to the city of Beijing?
Yi Liming: As everyone said, the former Dahua Cinema has left very good memories for many old Beijing citizens. With the progress of the times, the space of the past will naturally face a new transformation. When we first took over the renovation of the cinema, the first thing that came to our mind was the city, because I think the texture of Beijing is not only the hutongs, broad streets and high-rise buildings in the CBD, but the cultural temperament of the whole city.
Therefore, we want to transform it into an urban art center, mainly considering the scale. For example, we have the National Theatre to the southwest, the Beijing People’s Art Theatre and the China Children’s Art Theatre to the north, the National Grand Theatre to the west, and the Beijing Poly Theatre to the northeast. Our foothold must be to find and supplement these The difference in artistic creation or space between theaters, and at the same time, I personally care a lot about the service scale of artistic creation—the human scale. I should pay more attention to the people and stories living in this city. Dahua City Performing Arts Center is now redesigning the space according to this idea, including future repertoire planning and the development of some cultural projects, all based on this idea.
Beijing News: It can be seen that many of your designs are cultivating the Chinese audience’s habit of watching dramas in many ways. How do you view the relationship between the Performing Arts Center and the current audience?
Yi Liming: We are here more hoping to make art a way of life that everyone is accustomed to. Art is very close to us and can be touched at any time by our side. Therefore, these factors are also taken into account in the entire design concept. For example, we don’t have a long front hall passage, and the road is just outside. Because every audience will have some illusions before entering the theater, watching tragedy can see the pain of others, and can also reflect their own reality; watching comedy, you can also see many ridiculous metaphors in the world, and after all the performances, When you take a step from the dream space and return to the busy real space, I think it is a wonderful experience for both the audience and our creators.
Beijing News: Combined with decades of personal experience in stage work and experience in European theaters, Dahua City Performing Arts Center has also introduced some advanced European concepts. What is the industrial value you are pursuing?
Yi Liming: Actually, the cultural value of drama exists in the whole society, and its value may be greater than the economic value brought by the so-called box office. I don’t want the audience to come and buy a ticket and leave after watching the show. Actually, I hope that before watching the show, a month or two, he will have some research on the show and will lead him to think about us together. issues of common interest.
After watching the play, we can continue to talk, continue to think, and even continue to create new works. I think this is actually integrated into the life of the public, and the life of the public has followed us into a category of artistic life. This kind of thing is the industrial value I pursue.
Beijing News: With the opening of Dahua City Performing Arts Center, what are your expectations or goals for its future development?
Yi Liming: As an artist, I feel very lucky to have a theater that I lead. For me personally, I want to realize and practice many personal artistic projects here. Of course, I also hope that while I personally realize my artistic plan, I can communicate more widely with the residents of our city and with the vast audience of theater, because complete individualism has no social value. I am also a resident of Beijing, and I am a member of the middle of the city, so I want to create some works of art belonging to this city in this city.
Beijing News: What changes do you hope “Dahua” can bring to future audiences in terms of viewing habits or aesthetics?
Yi Liming: Actually, we can’t change anyone, but we can provide a possibility to provide the audience with an aesthetic choice or a ideological choice, that’s all. I think art is needed in any era, especially when we are in such a great era, we need art even more. Ultimately, I just want to use our art to find audiences who share our aesthetic needs.