It is autumn 1996 and the Chuanjiang Passenger Ship No 5 leaves Hankou to sail through the spectacular and dangerous Three Gorges. But her crew is occupied with domestic matters. The outgoing Captain fears that his adopted son, the incoming Captain, will lose his long-suffering fiancée unless he marries her the moment the voyage is over. The lonely Zhan Lan Lan wants to divorce her husband, the deck officer Xiao Lao Jiu, for he spends so much time on the river. Tian Ge, a highly-respected teacher returning home after a long absence is, it transpires, the long lost wife of the old Captain; but what is her relationship with her husband’s son?
They all long for reconciliation and reunion, fulfilled in legend by the mystical appearance of a red sailing boat on the river and threatened in reality by the demands of the Yangtze and uncertainties about the engineering works in the Three Gorges. The river has in fact one more challenge for the crew before it offers them resolution at journey’s end.
Sichuan People’s Art Theatre (SPAT), originally called the South West People’s Arts Theatre, was established in January 1953 as an artistic group mainly producing modern drama. The company has produced and performed hundreds of dramas - Chinese and foreign, contemporary and classical - and has gained a national reputation in China for its tours. In 1985, SPAT formed its own television production department.
Sailing Through The Three Gorges marked SPAT’s first (and only) performances in the UK. The production was seen at the China Art Festival 1997 by Brighton Festival’s then Artistic Director/Chief Executive, Christopher Barron, who secured the funding and support to make a UK tour possible. The performances in 1998 provided the catalyst for a series of collaborative projects between SPAT and West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds, instigated and facilitated by Chinese Crackers (founded by Julian Forrester and Rachel Parslew to promote cultural exchange between China and the UK). Between 1998 and 2005, artists visited each other to share knowledge and practice. This culminated in two productions, You Once Passed Me By performed in Mandarin by SPAT in Chengdu in 2002 (written by Li Ting, directed by Natasha Betteridge) and The Dutiful Daughter performed in English and Mandarin at West Yorkshire Playhouse in 2005 (written by Charles Way, directed by Gail McIntyre).
Natasha Betteridge and Rachel Parslew subsequently set up a new artist development and language learning project, 100 Words (www.100wordplay.com), which aimed to unlock young people’s creative potential and create global connections.
《船过三峡》标志着SPAT在英国的第一场（而且是唯一的）表演。该剧于1997年中国艺术节被当时的布莱顿艺术节的艺术总监/首席执行官Christopher Barron发现，他提供了资金担保和帮助实现英国巡演。在中国发起者的鼓励和促进下（由Julian Forrester和Rachel Parslew创立，以促进中英文化交流），1998年的演出为SPAT与利兹的西约克郡剧场一系列合作项目提供了催化剂。在1998年至2005年间，艺术家们互访分享理论与实践。合作催生了两部作品，2002年SPAT在成都用普通话演出的You Once Passed Me （李婷创作，Natasha Betteridge执导），2005年在西约克郡剧场用英语和普通话上演的（Charles Way创作，Gail McIntyre执导）The Dutiful Daughter。Natasha Betteridge和 Rachel Parslew创立了一个新艺术发展和语言学习项目“100词”（www.100wordplay.com），旨在开启年轻人的创造性潜力，开启全球联系。