Based on Lao She

  • Theatre
  • Show
The 2019 archive

Meng Jinghui

Beijing / First time in France

The life of a teahouse challenging the wheel of time to reveal the mutations of Chinese society and a yearning for freedom.
Teahouse, Meng Jinghui, 2019 © Christophe Raynaud de Lage


“Be careful not to speak of affairs of state!”
On the stage, a huge circular and metallic structure symbolising a Beijing teahouse reveals a microcosm where people of diverse social backgrounds come to mingle. A dialogue between three periods and three generations, struggling against the assault of time, revealing the upheavals that have affected Chinese society and the immutability of human nature. The wheel of fortune turns one way, then the other, as we stand in the wake of human destinies. Time passes, power changes hands, and the teahouse alone endures. Between humour and tragedy, the owner and his customers share their struggles and hopes to counter corruption and oppression in a great show of humanity. Accompanied by live electro-rock music, Meng Jinghui adapts this great classic of Chinese theatre to the excesses and rhythm of the modern world in a larger cultural context, making it resonate with other humanist and social texts. A poetic and exhilarating journey in which the artistic gesture is never far from the political.

Born in 1965 in Changhun, Meng Jinghui studied direction at the Central Academy of Drama in China. In 1997, he founded the Meng Theatre Studio, and is also the director of the Beehive Theatre in Beijing. He also serves as artistic director of several festivals in China and has directed several films. A pioneer of avant-garde theatre, he has been recognised since the 1990s for his political, creative, funny, and ironic adaptions of classic (Samuel Beckett, Dario Fo, Eugène Ionesco, Tang Xianzu) and contemporary plays (Rhinoceros in Love, I love XXX) alike. His shows have been performed throughout the world.

Born in 1899, Lao She, the writer of the “little people of Beijing,” is famous for his many remarkable novels, poems, and plays. He taught in London and in the United States before coming back to China in 1949 to serve the communist regime. One of his most important works, The Teahouse, was published in 1956. He was one of the first victims of the Cultural Revolution and died in 1966, officially committing suicide by drowning.


With Chen Lin, Chen Minghao, Ding Yiteng, Han Jing, Han ShuoLi Jianpeng, Li Jingwen, Liu Chang, Liu Hongfei, Qi Xi, Sun Yucheng, Sun Zhaokun, Tian Yu, Wang Xinyu, Wei Xi, Zhao Hongwei, Zhang Hongyu, Zhang Juncheng, Zhang Zhiming
And Li Xiaojun (singing), Li Yibo (drums), Wang Chuang (guitar and bass)

Text Lao She
Direction, adaptation Meng Jinghui
Dramaturgy Sebastian Kaiser
Music Hua Shan, Shao Yanpeng, Nova Heart
Scenography Zhang Wu
Lights Wang Qi
Video Wang Zhigang
Sound Hua Shan
Costumes Yu Lei
Direction assistant Li Huayi


Production Meng Theatre Studio
Co-production Hybridités France-Chine
With the support of Ministère de la Culture et du tourisme de la République populaire de Chine, Sinoac Group
Residency Wuzhen Theatre Festival
In partnership with France Médias Monde

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