To fall in love with a comic, requires something personal. An experience or connection with something that feels close and real. As a comic medium in itself, with characters that are often easy to relate to and connect with it’s no wonder that one starts seeking these kinds of “up & close” experiences. For me, I fell in love with the Chinese Manhua comics from an experience of traveling in China. This ancient form of drawing cartoon-like figures, originates from the 18th-century China. But for some reason, the form of this “literati painting”, became later hugely popular in Japan. Where it took the form which is very familiar to you all, of course “Manga”. While I love Japanese comics, going deep into the world of the Chinese and more ancient equivalent was just a fascinating trip full of discovery.
Soon it became obvious, that all of those people who dedicated their lives to drawing comics were true artists that came from many walks of life. In fact, the drawings were something very real and depicted anything from ordinary life style to fabulous events in time and space. Interestingly enough, it was acrobatics that lead me to this discovery where I managed to witness a spectacle that had bloomed in comic form previously. While modern comics might have forgotten Tiandi Theatre in Beijing, I and those who embrace the mystical past of China have and will not.
These comics were not carved in stone as some of the very oldest works of Manhua. Instead, acrobatics was an artform that was very dear to the many emperors that had ruled the land. While not getting enough from the live performing acts, the events were drawn so that they could be memorized and never forgotten. What made Tiandi a special theatre in the city, was it’s importance as entertainment to the emperor himself. While the original crew is surely no longer alive, the spirit of variety shows has been kept alive and well in this hugely popular acrobatic theatre. How I managed to connect the two dots, between Manhua and the acrobatic venue was simply pure luck. I love to talk with locals and get to know what their insight of the city consists. This time I was hinted to a comic that fantasised about this very show. Instantly it made the experience much well worth it and grabed my full attention. Not just in acrobatics and other performing arts in China, but especially in Comics as well. That’s why I wanted to dedicate a few posts to the new interest in my comical life, which is the People’s Republic of China. A controversial but interesting place to hang and explore.
For those interested in the Tiandi Theater venue, please check out their official website above. You can also just go directly to the show and hope they have tickets left. Their address is 10 Dongzhimen South Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing, China. With daily shows at 19:15 and discount ticket booking available from their website, there is just no reason to miss out on it. As I am in China for quite some time, I will also cover some other performing theaters in Beijing, perhaps in the rest of China as well.
Hope you like the new personal feel of my blog btw. Catch you later, & Nihao!