The Liangshan Project is a groundbreaking international theater collaboration between Chinese artists belonging to the Yi ethnic minority and a diverse group of American theater artists. This project offers a unique opportunity for artists of from both countries to share the heritage of marginalized communities and bear witness to prevailing divisions.
The Lark Play Development Center, Gung Ho Projects, the U.S. State Department, and the Liangshan Media Group are partnering to support a joint collaboration between New York-based American artists and Chinese theater artists from the Liangshan autonomous prefecture of Sichuan province. Situated in the mountains of Western China, Liangshan is the home of over two million people belonging to the Yi minority group. For over fifty years, the Liangshan Media Group has shared the dance and musical tradition of the Yi with audiences throughout China and abroad.
Working from a shared narrative source, the artists will draw on a variety of languages and performance traditions to create a multilingual adaptation of Romeo and Juliet incorporating folk music from both China and the U.S. Together the group will explore the legacies and reverberations of slavery and racial discord in both China and the United States as well as what happens when an encounter between disparate backgrounds results in a clash between individual desires and shared tradition.
Partners and Process
In 2015, Gung Ho Projects was awarded a Cultural Award from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing as well as an Arts Envoy Grant from the State Department to initiate a collaboration with theater artists in Sichuan Province. Liangshan Media Group joined as a co-producing partner for the project in summer 2016.
Month-Long Workshop in Sichuan: A collaborative of writers, composers, and performers from both countries will spend a month in the city of Xichang in Sichuan province, to develop and perform a first draft of the piece that will be presented at preview performances in China.
Our Creative Team
Michael Leibenluft (Director)
Leibenluft is an Obie Award winning director originally from Chevy Chase, Maryland.
Michael's directing credits include I’ll Never Love Again (a chamber piece) by Clare Barron at the Bushwick Starr (Obie Award for Direction, 2016; NYT and Time Out Critics’ Picks), How I Learned to Drive by Paula Vogel with Drum Tower West Theater in Beijing, Lost Tribe by Alex Borinsky as part of Target Margin’s Yiddish Theater Lab, The Subtle Body by Megan Campisi at 59E59 Theaters and the Shanghai Dramatic Arts Center, and other projects with LMCC, The Civilians, EST, and NYU/Tisch.
Michael has assistant directed at Signature Theatre, Playwrights Horizons, Atlantic Theatre, P73, and American Theater Company. He is an alum of the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, the Lincoln Center Directors Lab, as well as a former Fulbright Fellow, SDCF Kurt Weill Fellow, and Drama League Fall Directing Fellow.
Michael graduated from Yale as a double major in Theater Studies and East Asian Studies and completed his Masters in Performance Studies at the Shanghai Theatre Academy. Michael is the founder of Gung Ho Projects, an educational and cultural exchange platform dedicated to increasing understanding between the U.S. and China.
Li Ting is a first level national playwright, and director of the Chinese Dramatist’s Association. She is a recipient of a specially awarded state allowance for accomplished artists and academics. Her international collaborations include We Once Let It Go with the West Yorkshire Playhouse in England and The Bridge Over the Three Gorges at the U.K.’s Briton Theater Festival. In 2014 she collaborated with a British choreographer to bring the original piece I Breathe to Avignon Theater Festival. Her major works in China include Future Unity, which earned the country’s highest prize for dramatic writing, The 29th Tree (winner of a national cultural prize), the opera Red Yi (winner of the Chinese National Opera Festival), Don’t Forget Abuluoha, Journey in the Autumn Leaves, The Farmer, Soul of Streams, and the musicals Burning Snow and Grass House.
Liu Dangqing (Co-Composer)
Liu Dangqing is a composer and music producer. He is the Executive Director of Yousheng Music Production company. He has produced albums for notable musicians including Jiang Yang Zhuo Ma, Sun Lu, Tan Weiwei, Liao Chang Yong, among many others. He composed music for Yi Red, a large-scale Chinese folk musical in 2015. He served as Music Director for The 2016 13th Annual Sports Competition Opening Ceremony, Chengdu. In 2017 Liu received China Art Fund to produce music for the musical Silk Road Love Song. Liu sang in China Have Courage, Sichuan Get Stronger!, which commemorates the courage of those lost in the Wenchuan Earthquake. The song has been listened to by 10 million people. He is the CEO of Taoge China, a platform that promotes musicians through song production, copyright trading, artist brokage, and event planning. Liu also serves as Vice President and Secretary of Sichuan Province Folk Music Association.