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Learn "hundred, thousand and ten thousand-character plays" and cultivate seed teachers – Professor Lu Jun and his team at Shanghai Theatre Academy work with over 100 primary and secondary school teachers to open up virgin land of drama education on schoo

5 August 2018

Supported by the Shanghai Municipal Education Committee and organized by the Shanghai Student Drama Union and the Shanghai Campus Dramatic Text Incubation Center etc, the "hundred-character, thousand-character and ten thousand-character plays" playwriting workshop, a 12-day enclosed training for 43 trainees who were mainly primary and secondary school teachers, was held recently in Songjiang at the suburb of Shanghai. Under the guidance of the teaching team comprising Professor Lu Jun, Professor Yao Kougen and Associate Professor Huangxi, the trainees stretched their creativity and originality, and created more than 300 such kind of hundred-character and thousand-character plays, among which there was no lack of good works by rising stars.

These trainees who had undergone an application and selection process for enrolment in the workshop were from dozens of schools in more than ten districts in Shanghai, as well as other provinces and municipalities such as Beijing, Sichuan, Shandong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang. Most of them were teachers of such subjects as Chinese language, psychology and music, with about half of them had not received any playwriting training before, so they were like sponges during the half a month period trying to absorb as much the nourishment and essence of dramaturgy as possible. The teachers, including Professor Lu Jun, Professor Yao Kougen and Associate Professor Huangxi provided the trainees with the "dramatic core", i.e. the most basic conflict, and asked the trainees to use their creativity and develop it into hundred-character plays and gradually expand into thousand-character plays of different scripts.

The playwriting rule of "hundred-character, thousand-character and ten thousand-character plays” is a workshop training model that has been created by Professor Lu Jun from the concentration and refinement of the core units of the four-year undergraduate playwriting course and three-year MFA playwriting courses based on the Shanghai Theatre Academy’s 70 years of teaching experience in playwriting. As the convener of the Model Worker Innovation Studio accredited by the Shanghai Municipal Education Committee, Professor Lu Jun said that more than one hundred Shanghai and non-Shanghai "seed teachers" had come out from this purely public welfare and fully free-of-charge playwriting workshop over the three years since it was first launched, igniting the sparks of passion and energy to open up the virgin land of "drama education on school campus" and make the wonderful flowers of drama blossom in each school.

As Vice Chairman of the China Dramatic Literature Association, in the face of the “shortage of playwrights” in today’s theatrical world, Professor Lu has asked the question “Where have all the young playwrights gone?” He believes that an international cultural metropolis needs drama, and the playwrights are at the most upper reach and being original is in the first place, therefore, there must not be a gap and there must be new blood coming up constantly. He hopes that the “dramatic core” developed in these young teachers would grow from a budding seed into an enormous leafy tree.

The comprehensive stage arts including literature, performance, music, dance and fine arts etc will improve the comprehensive attainment, and drama education has an indispensable and irreplaceable function of cultivating people. Many countries in the world, in their long-term exploration and practice, have included drama education as an important content of educational reform. In Shanghai, the project of "Exploration and Innovation of Playwriting Talent Training Model" which is based on the teaching model of the "hundred-character, thousand-character and ten thousand-character plays" workshop has won the special prize of this year’s "Shanghai Higher Education Teaching Achievement Award". As Professor Lu Jun said, drama creation needs a batch of teachers who love drama and are dedicated to drama education to assume the role of “seeders” on a continuous basis from generation to generation and putting it above their personal fame and gains.