彩神app8谁与争锋Across China: Village youth chase their dreams behind the curtain

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SHANGHAI/NANCHANG, July 31 (Xinhua) -- At first glance, Huichang County in east China's Jiangxi Province may not seem like a place with a bustling cultural scene, but on hot summer nights, residents pack the local theater.

In 2015, Stan Lai, an overseas Chinese playwright whose ancestral home is Huichang, launched a program to bring his plays to the county.

"One play each summer, that's what I want to do for a decade," said Lai, "I want to see what changes will happen and how powerful art can be."

Lai called the program an "experiment" that aims to bring cultural activities to his hometown and help connect the remote county with the outside world.

Plays with sophisticated sets, lights and acoustics are regularly staged in theaters in big Chinese cities, but in small counties like Huichang, locals consider it a rare event.

Hua Xiaochun was among the first audience members to watch the play in 2015. He was deeply impressed during the first year of the program and has continued to watch the shows in the years that have followed.

Ding Nai-chu, Lai's wife, manages the Shanghai-based stage crew. As more locals started to attend the plays, she got the idea to recruit young people in the county to work on her team.

In 2017, Hua, who had just completed his courses in automobile repair from a vocational school, applied for a position on the stage crew.

"The job never bores me as I love the plays," Hua said.

Many young people in the county, like Hua, have never been out of their city or province. As part of the team, they are trained to do lighting, sound and set design, then head off on tours across China.

Ding said she hoped these skills could help broaden the young people's minds and bring them more job opportunities.

Since 2016, Ding has recruited nearly 20 young people in the county. Some remained on the crew after an internship and some were recommended to other theater groups in Shanghai.

Hua, who ultimately stayed, participated in the annual show they put on in Huichang County last year.

"I felt very proud as my parents and many relatives were all in the audience." Hua said, recalling the show. "As the lights dimmed, we went on stage and quickly moved all the sets and props away."

Zhu Chen, a Huichang local who graduated from a music college, also joined the crew as a sound designer in 2017. In less than a year, she began working independently on one of the plays.

"We hope one day more friends and relatives will enjoy our plays," said Zhu. "We believe the shows can bring us more surprises and help us achieve our dreams."