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Shanghai Culture Square

Shanghai, China

Although not the largest theater in the city (that title goes to Shanghai Grand Theater), the Shanghai Culture Square theater is very popular and is imbued with almost a century’s worth of history to its name. The place has been many things at many different periods of its history; from a dog gambling ring to a stock market until it finally became the marvel of a building that stands proud in the Huangpu district today. Its obscure shape has earned it strange monikers like UFO and egg but what lays inside manages to silence all critics and inspires a sense of awe with its international standard design and technology.

Multiple modes of public transport will help visitors reach the theater on Shaanxi South road. Metro lines 1, 10 and 12 have stops at the South Shaanxi road subway station. The theater is a few steps further south with a turn left at Fuxing middle road. The grand building is very hard to miss. Timings are from 10:00 to 21:00 with shows listed on the theaters’ own website. Tickets can be bought online and at the box office at the venue. It’s a popular venue and tickets sell out pretty quickly for acclaimed shows. The Culture Square grounds are not just an accessory to the theater but also a community green space with plenty of eateries and shopping options nearby.

The current version of the theater that opened its arms to art connoisseurs in 2011 boasts a seating capacity of almost 2,000 persons in its main auditorium, and has state of the art facilities to allow international level performances with only the best acoustics and lightning installed. The technology to create atmospheric changes like rain, snow, floods, etc., is available as well. The stage machinery even allows it to adjust size and terrain for different performances.

The dominating structure is more then its auditorium. The foyer is a marvel of its own with a glass ceiling and funnel style column in its center to allow for natural light and wind during pleasant days. This hall is ideal for conferences and seminars with an open floor plan and buoyant atmosphere. Other rooms and halls in the compound include rehearsal room, piano room, dressing rooms, mini theater and space for lectures and exhibitions.

Shanghai Culture Square dedicates about 70% of its time during a year to musical plays. Over the years these have included some global hits like Phantom of the Opera, Romeo et Juliet, West Side Story and Elizabeth among others. However, the management team encourages more Chinese productions so that domestic art and talent can be groomed and brought up to international standards. This has specially been more emphasized during the Covid-19 pandemic when foreign troupes postponed their scheduled performances.

No matter the type of show the theater has going for the month, one thing is absolutely certain. A substantial chunk of Shanghai’s population has a craving for classical theater plays and the theater will remain a major cultural exchange medium.

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