This is one of the famous dramas by Lao She. The drama is set in a typical, old Beijing teahouse and follows the lives of the owner and his customers through three stages in modern Chinese history. The play spans fifty years and has a cast of over sixty characters drawn from all levels of society. Brought together in Yutai Teahouse, they reflect the changes that were taking place in Chinese society. The strength and appeal of the play lie in part in Lao She's masterful recreation of the characters and language of the streets of old Beijing, but the center of its strength is Lao She's vision, his unerring choice of significant detail, and his familiarity with the old society he is describing, with its strengths, weaknesses, and ironies. It is this which carries Teahouse beyond the borders of social criticism and makes it a complex and living work of art. Written in 1957, Teahouse bids an inspired, lingering farewell to old Beijing and the old society, despite their evils and ills, and extends a passionate welcome to the new society with its promise of freedom and equality of the people. Standing as it does between old and new China, and deeply rooted in both, Teahouse shimmers with a fine sense of ambivalence. True to its writer, to China, and to its time, it is a masterpiece of modern theater.
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