On Jan 31, 1949, the Chinese People's Liberation Army entered Beijing, opening a new chapter in the city's long history.
Technologists, engineers and radio broadcasters of Yan'an Xinhua Radio Station also came to Beijing and took over the responsibility of managing the radio station, which was formerly run by Kuomintang. In September that year, it was renamed as Beijing Xinhua Radio Station.
Around one month before the founding ceremony of the People's Republic of China, which was held in Tian'anmen Square on Oct 1, 1949, in Beijing at 3 pm, Beijing Xinhua Radio Station was given the task of live broadcasting the grand ceremony. Despite many technical difficulties, radio station staff were up to the challenge.
Two years ago, when veteran director Tian Qinxin heard the stories behind Beijing Xinhua Radio Station and the live broadcasting of the founding ceremony of the PRC, she was very excited and considered adapting it into a Chinese play.
She shared the idea with Wang Ning, president of the National Center for the Performing Arts, and they decided to collaborate on staging the Chinese play, titled Live Broadcast: The Founding Ceremony of the PRC.
On Oct 1, the play will be premiered at the NCPA in the capital, with shows to be staged from Oct 1 to 7.
Directed by Tian, 52, who took up the position as president of the National Theater of China in 2020, the play gathers star actors and actresses from the theater, including Zhang Tong, Tao Hong and Wu Yue, as well as a cohort of the company's young artists.
Tian is known for directing Chinese plays, such as Beijing Fayuan Temple and Green Snake. In 2016, she also directed her first Chinese opera, Long March, in collaboration with the NCPA.
"It's a longtime wish fulfilled for both the National Theater of China and the NCPA. The play will be staged on the occasion of the National Day holiday in October, which will mark the 72nd anniversary of the founding of the PRC," says Tian, adding that this year also marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China.
"We invited historians and experts in both the history of the CPC and radio station operations to share stories about Beijing Xinhua Radio Station. We learned that engineers of the radio station solved technical difficulties, such as improving reception quality in Tian'anmen Square and overcame radio wave interference," Tian adds. "We are deeply touched by the stories of those technologists, engineers and radio broadcasters who made a great contribution to the historic moment by enabling people worldwide to hear about the birth of New China."
Actor Wu Yue will play the role of Lu Haiyu, an engineer of Beijing Xinhua Radio Station. Along with his colleagues, he not only deals with challenges of technical problems during the live broadcast, but also has to fight against Kuomintang spies.
"The character has a very solid professional background and he is very patriotic. He represents lots of ordinary people, who are heroes to the country's development," says Wu, who is known for his work in Chinese plays, movies and TV dramas, especially martial arts roles.
"Those people with Beijing Xinhua Radio Station fulfilled a mission within 30 days. I believe that audiences will be taken back to 1949 by watching the play and reviewing the exciting moment when Chairman Mao Zedong announced the founding of the People's Republic of China," says actress Tao Hong, who will play the role of radio broadcaster Gao Damei.
In her 40s, Tao says the character is merely in her early 20s and is a lovely, patriotic woman. "There are many young actresses of the National Theater of China who inspired me to portray the role," says Tao.
Tao received training from veteran radio broadcasters to prepare for the role, such as vocal training, public-speaking skills and operating sound equipment.
According to Zhao Tiechun, vice-president of the NCPA, it is the first time the theater has commissioned an original Chinese play.