When a new adaptation of the 400-year-old opera The Peony Pavilion arrived at Zellerbach Hall last month, critics proclaimed it an artistic triumph. But it was more than that. The production’s U.S. premiere marked a triumph of a different sort for the one-year-old Berkeley China Initiative, an ambitious, multi-faceted effort to boost the Berkeley campus into the forefront of Chinese knowledge and understanding.
Chinese studies have a long and distinguished history at Berkeley, dating back to 1872 and the creation of the campus’s first endowed chair, the Agassiz Professorship of Oriental Languages and Literature. Today some 40 percent of undergrads and roughly 17 percent of graduate students are Asian American, and nearly 400 students hail from China. More than 100 Berkeley students each year head to mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan through exchange programs.
“There are areas where we can collaborate very, very closely, such as environmental issues, and there are areas ” human rights, information, intellectual property, rule of law ” where our relationships are very complex,” says Gold. “But we have to continue to find ways to work together to solve problems facing our societies ” separately and jointly ” and the world, because our impact on the world stage is so great.” [Full Text]
– Also San Francisco Chronicle’s 400-year-old ‘Peony’ Blooms in Berkeley
– And California magazine’s The deaths and lives of The Peony Pavilion: The 16th-century Romeo and Juliet of China is revived, with a passion.