Music box tunes valley of memories

(Shanghai Daily) | Jul 25, 2014

KFS Music Box, Shanghai’s first outdoor theater made from recycled materials with a national patent, will open to the public with an original Chinese musical, “Memories of the Valley,” on August 1 at Shanghai Culture Square.

Theater designer Peter Fu is also a co-producer of the musical.

“Many people say that architecture is a solidified form of music, which indicates a subtle connection between the two art forms. As an architect for 30 years, I was always curious about my happy ‘neighbor,’ and finally I got a chance to step in. I had great fun in it,” says Fu, who has been constantly questioned about why he created a musical as architecture.


The ecologically unique appearance of KFS music box. [Photo/China Daily]

The musical about three young talents who each bring a gift to the valley where they first meet is also a way for Fu as an overseas returnee to show his love and loyalty to the motherland.

“The promise among the three talents is just like the promise many overseas returnees have for our home country,” says Fu. “In the story, the architect brings a house, the musician brings a musical and the artist brings a sculpture. As for me, I want to bring everything I am capable of to my motherland.”

Fu says his basic idea is zero damage to the environment when designing the theater. All the materials are recycled and can be used again, including four containers as stages and walls and wood for the floor.

Fu also promises zero waste in the construction, as all the leftover fragments will be used for sculpture and decorations.


The wooden-lattice structure at the lower part of the walls. [Photo/China Daily]


The wooden-lattice structure at the lower part of the walls. [Photo/China Daily]

To keep the theater cool in summer, the lower part of the walls at the seat level are formed as a wooden lattice, where air can be accelerated when passing through, forming a cool wind in the theater without air-conditioning.

“It is quite like the carved windows in a traditional Chinese garden structure, which was designed first for lighting and airing,” says Fu. “It is simple and cheap yet effective.”

Though it might not cool the theater much during the daytime sun, it will definitely promise a comfortable environment after sunset, says Fu.

Different from most traditional theaters, the 300 seats are arranged at the center of KFS Music Box, surrounded by four small stages. Instead of concentrating on only one stage, audiences are expected to be attracted by performances that might come from any angle.

The rotary seats will enable spectators to switch among different stages, like what they might do with a remote control for TV.

But inevitably, most traditional performances made for proscenium stages cannot work at KFS Music Box. Original creative and pioneering works are expected to fit the theater.

“I think the theater will not only provide challenge but also inspiration for artists,” says Fu. “The alternative and unfixed space will offer bigger imaginary space.”

Fu admits that outdoor sounds will be a defect, as in many outdoor venues. Performances with strong visual impact may be more suitable for the theater.

“Memories of the Valley”
Date: August 1, 7:30pm
Venue: KFS Music Box, Shanghai Culture Square, 597 Fuxing Rd M.
Tickets: 150 yuan
Tel: 6472-6000, 6472-9000


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