We are working with writers, translators and academics in the UK and China, in a cultural exchange to share classical Chinese stories with UK audiences.

As part of the Chinese Classics Translation Project, we are also now working with other theatres around the UK to develop and support new translations of classical Chinese dramas towards production. This page describes workshops and research visits for the project. 


We were invited to talk to translation students in the School of Arts, English and Languages about the Chinese Classics Translation Project in February 2019, sharing each other's knowledge and best practice.


Working with translators, playwrights, actors, clowning specialists, sound designers and directors, we supported three practical workshops in March and April 2018, to develop classical Chinese translations that we have under commission, including The Butterfly Lovers《梁祝》and The Chalk Circle《包待制智赚灰栏记》.

Translation Workshop

We invited the playwrights and classical Chinese translators who are creating new English versions of Chinese classical dramas to Stratford-upon-Avon in March 2018, to talk about the creative choices, possibilities and challenges of the project. Artists travelled from around the UK, China, America and Europe to meet and work in our rehearsal space in Stratford, sharing their expertise in the same room for the first time. 

a man and two women, seated at a desk in discussion
The translation workshop in March 2018
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The playwrights, directors, and translation studies researcher were all keen to discover new approaches to translation and collaboration. They were joined by academics specialising in translation studies and Chinese theatre performance history. They watched contemporary performances of classical works in our theatres, met our Artistic Director Gregory Doran, were given provocations and had time to discuss their translation work in more detail.

“It changed my thinking on how translators view their work and opened up questions on the practice of translation in its various forms.”

“It gave me new ideas and awareness in approaching the source text, especially on the musicality of the words and how to find ways to present that in a new language. Also how uncertainties can open up opportunities and new avenues of collaborations and shouldn't be feared.”

“It was really inspiring and great for me to see how people from different backgrounds approached the plays.”


We were invited to talk about the Chinese Classics Translation Project at Newcastle University, alongside academics and other theatre practitioners.

Yellow Earth Playwrights' Workshop

We are supporting Yellow Earth’s theatre company’s Professional Playwrights Programme. Their playwrights visited Stratford-upon-Avon in January 2018 to see A Christmas Carol, then took part in a workshop with the playwright, David Edgar.

A girl sitting on a woman's lap reading from a black folder
Sophie Wong and Wendy Kweh in rehearsal for Snow in Midsummer
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Wuzhen International Theatre Festival

2015 and 2017

We visited the International Theatre Festival in Wuzhen to see Chinese theatre being performed to home audiences, including a Chinese production of The Injustice to Dou E by Guan Hanqing (the play we performed as Snow in Midsummer) with just four actors and two live musicians. 

During the visit we met with one of the Chinese translators working on the Chinese Classics Translation Project for some script development.

We held a workshop for translators and performers in 2017 (part of our Folio Translation Project), to learn about the challenges in translating both Shakespeare’s Folio into contemporary Mandarin, and in translating classical Chinese drama for contemporary English-speaking audiences. Both projects involve challenges in translating culturally specific references, poetry and song.

outside of Wuzhen Grand Theatre
Wuzhen Grand Theatre
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Artist Development Workshops

February 2017

Alongside Snow in Midsummer, we offered actors and the show's Assistant Director time to research and develop new work within a rehearsal room.

We supported the development of three pieces exploring different aspects of Chinese heritage, working with actors from within the Snow in Midsummer company and others. One workshop was in association with Yellow Earth Theatre and another workshop was in association with Papergang Theatre, offering rehearsal space and access to a company of actors of East Asian descent. These workshops helped us to build relationships and share artistic knowledge. This is one way we develop artists and ideas.

Snow in Midsummer – Research Trip to China

Beijing, Huai’an and Shanghai, October 2016

A small team including Director Justin Audibert and Designer Lily Arnold visited China to research and develop Snow in Midsummer. They worked with Gigi Chang, the Chinese translator who created a new translation into modern English from classical Chinese.

They visited theatres and experts and went to Huai’an, the setting for Guan Hanqing's classical Chinese play, The Injustice Done to Dou E. Hanqing lived between 1224-1330 and wrote the play during the Yuan dynasty - it's one of the great classical Chinese classical dramas. The research trip meant that Lily could design the production inspired by the places and people she met. 

Snow in Midsummer – Play Development Workshop

London and Stratford-upon-Avon, August 2016

The creative team, the playwright and a group of adult and child actors of East Asian descent worked together to workshop two different drafts of Frances’ play.

We were able to respond to how the play sounded aloud and collaborated to test out ideas for the production. The play was then programmed for production on the Swan stage, with many of the actors who contributed to the play’s practical development returning as part of this successful and ground-breaking production in Spring 2017. 

Find out more about the research and development for Snow in Midsummer.

Snow in Midsummer Translator Gigi Chan at Wuzhen International Theatre Festival
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