In 1986, together with a group of like-minded people - actors of the Peking Opera, Hsing-kuo Wu had founded the Contemporary Legend Theater dedicated to integration of the ancient Chinese theater with the universal stage art. Stage adaptation of western classics into the traditional style of the Peking opera allowed to create a new direction. The perfection of artistic synthesis of Western and Eastern cultural forms, of the past and the present in Hsing-kuo Wu’s performances allowed to speak of him as of one of the world best creators of cross-cultural productions.
In the years of its work, the Contemporary Legend Theater has not once turned to W. Shakespeare’s oeuvre; it produced adaptations of Greek tragedies, Chekhov and Beckett’s plays, and performed traditional and contemporary repertoire of the Chinese theater. The theater performed in more than twenty countries on the best stages and international theater festivals.
“My adaptation of King Lear could be divided into three actions: the ‘play’, ‘game,’ and ‘gambler.’ By Arana Mnushkina's invitation, I had produced the first act in 2000 premiered at the Odeon Theater in Paris and shown later on at the Theater du Soleil. This period was the most difficult time in my life: alike King Lear who had lost his kingdom, in 1998, I decided to close down the theater which I had founded twelve years earlier. The performance contains my remembrances of the past, beginning with my life at the school of Chinese opera. While King Lear was a one-man-show, I was not on my own. Shakespeare was leading me; I was also accompanied by the images impersonated in the Sheng (male), Dan (female), Zi (strong characters), and Chow (clowns) roles. Working on the performance, I was thinking about our culture and traditions. In 2001, I restored the Contemporary Legend Theater and started my quest of my way. With the help of King Lear, I understood the Contemporary Legend Theater’s mission: in the 21st century, it consists not only of keeping traditions, but also in the collision of traditions and contemporaneity which provides for the emergence of a new style expanding borders of the Peking Opera’s future.” Hsing-kuo Wu