On January 24th and 25th, the large-scale children's stage play "Children of the Nation" opened at the National Center for the Performing Arts. The play is based on the historical event of "Three Thousand Orphans Entering Inner Mongolia" and is based on the true story of Duguima, the honorary title winner of "People's Model" and "Prairie Mother", who raised 28 orphans in the 1960s, and vividly interprets the story. A story of national unity.

  During the rehearsal, Shi Xuehai, screenwriter and director of the play and professor of the Film and Television Department of the Central Academy of Drama, and Cheng Zhenni, a member of the Seventh Branch of the Beijing Municipal Committee of the China Democratic League and a teacher at the Beijing International Art School, talked with reporters from China News and shared "Children of the Nation" "The story of creation.

On January 24th and 25th, the large-scale children's stage play "Children of the Nation" opened at the National Center for the Performing Arts. Photo provided by interviewee

How does a 19-year-old "mother" raise 28 children?

  "Children of the Nation" took more than a year from script creation to the first dress rehearsal. In order to restore the true story to the greatest extent possible, Shi Xuehai visited Duguima many times during the creation stage and traveled to various parts of Inner Mongolia to interview the "children of the country" who were raised by Duguima.

  "Take another, live one; live one, grow stronger." This is not only a line in the play, but also the promise of the 19-year-old Mongolian girl Duguima to "the country's children".

  Among the 28 children, the youngest is less than 1 year old. How can Duguima, who has no parenting experience, comfort a crying baby? Duguima doesn't know how to coax children, but she has raised lambs. On the stage on the evening of January 24, "Duguima" coaxed a child by imitating the sound of a sheep, which caused laughter in the audience.

  "It's not only dramas with strong conflicts that can make the audience like it." Shi Xuehai said, "Our narrative must flow like water, allowing the audience to understand the lives of Duguima and the children like turning the pages of a book. This page says what happened today Whatever happens, turn the page and you will see what will happen tomorrow. Using the 'life flow' form of expression to bring the audience closer to the plot, the stories around them are sometimes more touching."

  "I asked Duguima, what did you think about most every day? She said she just wanted to sleep." Shi Xuehai said. The "mother" who takes care of 28 children just wants to rest when she has free time. Therefore, in the play, Shi Xuehai set up a scene: the tired mother fell asleep lying on the haystack, with the children surrounding her. The innocent children let the wind blow gently and the birds chirp quietly, so as not to wake up their dear mother.

"What we need is 'no acting'"

  On September 2, 2023, "Children of the Nation" started its Inner Mongolia tour, traveling more than 7,000 kilometers, lasting 22 days, and performing a total of 15 performances. Every performance day, residents living in the surrounding area will actively go to the theater to watch the performance. "There were people who came by car, people who rode motorcycles, and even people who came on horse-drawn carriages." Shi Xuehai said that more than 15,000 people watched the performance.

  The crew produced 32 props, 53 sets of costumes, 6 original songs and 23 pieces of music. Not only was the "hardware" fully prepared, but the show crew also gave careful consideration to the selection of actors.

  When casting, Shi Xuehai "abandoned" the acting department and turned his attention to acrobatics majors. The 15 children participating in this performance are all from the acrobatics major of Beijing International Art School. The oldest is 14 years old and the youngest is 10 years old. The 15 young actors come from many provinces and cities across the country, 2 of whom are from ethnic minorities.

  "This is my first time coming to the grassland, and it is also my first time running on the grassland." said Yang Hui, who plays "Haribari", one of the 28 children in the play. Yang Hui is a Yi teenager from Pu'er City, Yunnan Province. The experience of performing in Inner Mongolia made him feel fresh and unforgettable.

  "What we need is exactly 'not knowing how to act.'" In Shi Xuehai's view, although these young actors' acting skills are still somewhat raw, their performances of interactions, coexistence and even quarrels between children are full of the flavor of life and the flavor of the times. , national flavor.

From "Meeting the Wolf on the Grassland" to the Mongolian Curtain Ceremony

  After confirming the actors, the performance team conducted many rehearsals and invited experts from Inner Mongolia to Beijing to provide opinions and suggestions for the play. Among them is Sarentoya, a national first-level writer and the author of the long reportage "Children of the Nation".

  In one scene, Duguima takes a sick child to see a doctor. The plot was originally supposed to show a story about her encountering a pack of wolves and fighting bravely. But Sarentoya objected to this: "Wolves generally do not attack people on their own initiative. And how can a 19-year-old girl fight with a pack of wolves?" At Sarentoya's suggestion, this scene was changed to "Wolves". Guima used fire to scare away the wolves. "Wolves are afraid of fire. Only people who have truly lived on the grasslands have such 'common sense.'" Shi Xuehai said, "We attach great importance to the advice of folklore experts because the story takes place where the Mongolian people live. Only those who understand them Only by living can we truly restore their lives.”

  Shi Xuehai's rigorous attention to detail continued until the end of the performance - at the curtain call, the actors performed the Mongolian salute to the audience.

On January 24, at the rehearsal of "Children of the Nation", Shi Xuehai gave a lecture to the young actors. Photo by Yin Limei

Tell the story of national unity

  "Do you know what story you are performing?"

  "I know, it's the story of 'Three Thousand Orphans Entering Inner Mongolia'."

  "When did it happen?"

  "The 1960s were a time when the country was still in great difficulty."

  Before the rehearsal, the reporter met the 15 young actors participating in the performance in the dressing room backstage. Faced with reporters' questions, they answered in unison.

  "They have never left Beijing before. During the more than 20 days of the tour in Inner Mongolia, the children traveled around by plane, high-speed rail or car, which was very hard. When there were no performances, they practiced in the corridors of the hotel - children majoring in acrobatics, They cannot relax in their basic skills." Cheng Zhenni said, "This performance is a very rare opportunity for them to learn to become professional actors."

  The curtain opens, and young actors and adult actors are equally engaged. Every time when Yang Rui, the actor of "Dugui Ma", burst into tears on the stage, many audience members also wiped away their tears in the audience. "As an actor, you must first impress yourself. Only in this way can your performance infect others." Shi Xuehai said.

  The stage play "Children of the Country" is jointly produced by the United Front Work Department of the Party Committee of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, the United Front Work Department of the Beijing Municipal Party Committee, the Ethnic Affairs Committee of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, and the Beijing Performing Arts Group, and is directed by the Propaganda Department of the Party Committee of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. It is the "Beijing-Mongolia Cooperation" that solidifies the consciousness of the Chinese nation's community. A useful attempt. The story of Duguima and the children no longer stays in the past, nor does it stop in the distant prairie. This spiritual communication spans time and space and warms many people.

  "This is also the reason why many people are willing to come to see us from far away when we perform in Inner Mongolia - we resonate." Shi Xuehai said, "Telling the story of Duguima well and telling the story of national unity is not only for Inner Mongolia. , it is a very important thing for each of us." (End) (Reported by Yin Limei, author of "China News")