UCCA Beijing

Youth in History: A Cross-Cultural, Intermedia, and Temporal Exploration of Youth

2023.4.9 - 2023.4.16

Location:  UCCA Auditorium
Language:  Chinese, English, French, and other languages (with Chinese and English subtitles)

In the 1970s, a girl from Mérida in South America came to Europe because of an accident. At that time, the second oil crisis burst and the oil price soared. It is said that the Venezuelan people lived a good life like Europeans. Meanwhile, although abandoned in the following decades of depoliticization, the music and stories in revolutionary films influenced some young people in the city of Shanghai who grew up in the 1980s. In the tolerant environment of Bangalore, a young Muslim explored a different way of life compared to his wealthy family. At the same time, on the streets of Johannesburg or Cape Town, young people were honing their harsh youth in bouts of violence.

Youth is not only the young people of the present and their value as productive forces but also the past and future of human beings. "Youth in History" is about the history of how people grow up.

"Youth in History" is an international documentary theatre project initiated by Zhao Chuan (Shanghai) in collaboration with Anuja Ghosalkar (Bangalore), Qondiswa James (Cape Town) and Pierre-Angelo Zavaglia (Geneva/Paris). They establish collaboration across regions, cultures and generations and form a joint group of discussion, creation, and presentation. A series of online and offline collective lecture performances will be given to international audiences in the spring of 2023.

Since 2017, “youth” has been one of the primary focuses in Zhao Chuan's research, investigation, and artistic creation. Related workshops and collective performances were conducted in Shanghai (PSA 2018, Shanghai Rockbund Art Museum 2019) and Hong Kong (Para Site 2019). He has realized that on the one hand, “the youth” is subject to a high level of social expectation, and on the other hand, youths find themselves in difficult straits, both in daily life and in various political contexts. In discussions with young people today, it can be difficult to get beyond their personal experiences and the various kinds of pressure that they feel. Therefore, he is interested in dialogue with “former” youths, those who, from different backgrounds or cultures, have already entered into “history”; to open up the conversation again with those who have become “historical relics”. In this way, Zhao Chuan hopes to expand people's vision and deepen their knowledge about the power of “the youth” from a historical perspective. Thus, supported by Pro Helvetia Shanghai Office, Zhao Chuan invites artists from different regions and generations to dig into the youth of the elders over the age of 50 together in this "Youth in History” project. Since July 2022, they have conducted collaborative research, discussion and creation for more than half a year, and will finally form the performance of “Youth in History”.

The performance will be jointly completed by a local artist performing live and three other international artists performing online via video conference. The performance will last approximately 105 minutes.

By the end of 2022, the creators have completed thematic discussion, research, and joint creation workshops. From January to February 2023, they will start individual creation and discussion.


April 9, 2023, 14:00-16:00ConversationsUCCA Auditorium
April 15, 2023, 19:30-21:00Experimental LecturesUCCA Auditorium
April 16, 2023, 19:30-21:00Experimental LecturesUCCA Auditorium






Curators: Yao Mengxi, Zhu Xiaojing

Project Coordinator: Yang Yue

Stage Design: Xu Zhifeng

Multimedia Consultant: Zheng Weimin

Multimedia Production: Hua Xizi

Video Editing: Zeng Lingyu

Participating artists

Zhao Chuan(creation/performance)

Zhao Chuan, born in 1967, works across theatre, literature, film and contemporary art. He creates alternative and socially engaged theatre and is the founding member and mastermind of the Shanghai-based theatre collective Grass Stage (since 2005). For over a decade, as a theatremaker and writer, he has created a number of theatre works across China together with his collective Grass Stage. However, they are often unable to present these works in conventional theatres because of the issues they addressed and their non-professional set-up. The group encourages people from different backgrounds to consider human living conditions and historical issues and stimulates participators and audiences to respond to those issues through the creative process, rehearsals, performances and post-talks. Given its strong interest in social practice, the group’s theatre activities have often been considered too ideological, marginal and uncertain by the mainstream. From 2015 to 2019, Grass Stage supported industry workers to make their theatre pieces; From 2017 to 2019, in dialogue with young people from diverse backgrounds, the group developed stage plays on youth issues in today’s China. His theatre works include Geli Isle (2021), Wild Seeds (2018) and Social Theater Trilogy (2006–2017), comprising World Factory, The Little Society, Madmen's Stories, Unsettling Stones (2012) etc. “Theatre of Contagion” is the new start of a series of works since the pandemic era in early 2020. 

He has been awarded several international literary awards, including the Unita Prize for New Novelists (Taiwan 2001). His publications include fiction, essays and art criticism: On Radical Art: the 80s Scene in Shanghai (author, 2014), The Body at Stake: Experiments in Chinese Contemporary Art and Theatre (co-editor, author, 2013), Beyond the Stage: Zurich Sketches (author, 2021) and AnOther Gathering: Performance in Multiple Realities (co-editor, author, 2021). He is also the producer of an independent documentary titled Shanghai Youth (2015). He has been involved in many international art residencies, collaboration projects and teaching.

Anuja Ghosalkar (creation/performance)

Abuja Ghosalkar is the founder of Drama Queen—a Documentary theatre company, evolving a unique form of theatre in India since 2015. Her practice focuses on personal histories, archival absences and blurring the hierarchies between audience and performer—to extend the idea of theatre to create audacious work. Iterations around form and process, modes of (social) media, sites, technologies, and reclaiming narratives on gender and intimacy are critical to her performance-making and pedagogy.

Her performances and workshops have been programmed by the University of Oxford, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Sophiensale, Serendipity Arts Festival, National Centre for Biological Sciences, and Forum Transregionale –ZMO, among others. Anuja is the co-curator of the international workshop series on Documentary Theatre with Kai Tuchmann—which programmed artists like Gobsquad Collective, Boris Nikitin, Rimini Protokoll, and Zhao Chuan. She co-curated VR-based performances for the Serendipity Arts Virtual 2020. They also designed and facilitated an online course curriculum on Digital Documentary Theatre for the Serendipity Arts Foundation.

As visiting faculty at the Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, she leads practice-based pedagogy. She has written on film and performance for Nang Magazine, Art India, Bioscope, and Hakara and for an edited volume on Performance Making and the Archive for Routledge.

Her recent work The Lonely Hearts Club, started as an Instagram handle in March 2020, is now an online show about voyeurism, relationships with screens and erotica. Her newest live performance premiered at Sophiensale, Berlin in November 2021– I Promise the Bearer frames questions about art, funding and theatre. She is the 2022 research fellow at the archives of the National Centre for Biological Studies.

Qondiswa James (creation/performance)

Qondiswa James is a cultural worker living in Cape Town, South Africa. She is an award-winning theatre-maker, performance artist, film and theatre performer, instillation artist, writer, arts facilitator and activist. She received her Masters in Live Art, Interdisciplinary and Public Art at the Institute of Creative Arts. Her work engages the socio-political imagination towards mobilising transgression.

She has staged public art interventions at Infecting the City and Live Arts Festival. Her onscreen appearances include High Fantasy (DIFF 2018 Best South African Film Award, Artistic Bravery Award). She has directed theatre works including A Faint Patch of Light (winner of a 2019 Standard Bank Ovation Award) and her original play A HOWL IN MAKHANDA at the Virtual National Arts Festival 2020. Most recently she has staged a reading of an original play script, She Is Alone, as part of Baxter Theatre Centre’s pilot

the project, the Masambe Theatre’s Writers Lab 2021.

Pierre-Angelo Zavaglia (creation/performance)

Pierre-Angelo grew up between France and Venezuela. He did his Master’s degree in theatre studies at the École Normale Supérieure de Paris (ENS) and wrote a thesis about documentary theatre addressing the Rwandan genocide. At the same time, he also got some experience when he staged multiple plays with the Devolveremos collective, who exhibited their work at the Théâtre Paris Villette or at the DOC! in Paris. He attended professional workshops with artists such as Milo Rau and Dieudonné Niangouna. In 2016, he was invited to the Young Actors’ and Directors’ Meeting in Stockholm during the Ingmar Bergman International Theatre Festival, where young actors and directors from all around Europe met up to talk about their practice. In 2017, he started a Master’s degree in directing at La Manufacture – School of Performing Arts in Lausanne, where he developed new areas of his research alongside Marie-José Malis, Philippe Quesne, Massimo Furlan, Maya Bösch, and even the Blitz Theatre Group. Later on, in September 2019, he presented his final project at the Manufacture, PAOLO, where he tackled the political situation in Venezuela through a fictional story. After he graduated from La Manufacture, he assisted Yan Duyvendak with the interactive performance VIRUS. He became an associated artist of L’Abri in Geneva for the season 2020-2021. He recently presented in L’Abri in Geneva his new project Crudo y pesado, a documentary performance about Venezuela, oil and exile, written with Yoletty Bracho, a Venezuelan researcher exiled in France. He is currently assisting Igor Cardellini and Tomas Gonzalez for the performance L’Âge d’or, a Vidy Lausanne production and he also assists Julien Meyer for the show Ritournelle in Théâtre Saint-Gervais Genève.

Dimitri de Perrot (music concept/composition)

Dimitri de Perrot is an internationally active and awarded Swiss artist, musician, director and lecturer at the Zurich University of the Arts, ZHdK. At the core of his research is the narrative through and with sound at interfaces of theatre, music and fine arts. His works and collaborations tour worldwide and have been programmed in prestigious venues and festivals: Le Centquatre Paris, BAM New York, Festival d'Avignon, Hong Kong Arts Centre, Romaeuropa Festival – Rom, Théâtre Vidy-Lausanne, Barbican London, Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre, Théâtre de la Ville - Paris, Museum Tinguely Basel, Schauspielhaus Zürich, Biennale Musiques en Scène - Lyon, Zürcher Theater Spektakel, among others. Dimitri de Perrot lives and works in Zurich, Switzerland.

Léo Collin (music concept/composition)

Composer Léo Collin studied applied arts, classical music and music composition in France, Germany and Switzerland.

He creates solo pieces, ensemble pieces, radio shows and musical theatre (Baleen in 2019, Medusen in 2020 and Corals in 2022). Since 2018 he has been working regularly with composer Jörg Köppl and the ensemble metanoia, and several audio performance pieces have been created. He staged and played with Kollektiv International Totem, or co-curated the serie detalk show, a mini-musiktheater with different sonic artists. His scores have been performed by ensembles such as les Métaboles (Paris), Lemniscate (Basel) and Lucilin (Luxembourg), etc. He also composed electronic music for theatre and dance. He has worked as a performer for choreographers Alessandro Sciarroni and Sebastian Baumgartner.


Pro Helvetia

Pro Helvetia is dedicated to the promotion of contemporary cultural works of national and international interest. It also fosters co-productions or exchanges between Swiss artists and artists from other countries, in particular from countries where Pro Helvetia has a regional office.
Pro Helvetia Shanghai is founded in 2010 and represents the Swiss Arts Council in China. Its aim is to encourage dialogue between Swiss and Chinese cultural practitioners and institutions by supporting projects that enhance the exchange of knowledge and experience in the cultural field.

Art Museum of Nanjing University of the Arts

Grass Stage

Equipment sponsorship


Epson entered China in the 1980s and has since then gone through three stages: trade exchanges, investment and construction of factories, and building a comprehensive network. After more than 40 years of development, Epson has established a complete manufacturing, sales and service network. Epson’s business in China mainly includes printers, scanners, projectors, and other information-related products, as well as electronic components and industrial robots. Its products have won the love of Chinese consumers for their excellent quality, energy saving ability, and environmental protection. In the Chinese market, Epson has always been based on the concept of “challenge and innovation,” and has continuously introduced a series of advanced technologies and application solutions into China, so that Chinese consumers can keep pace with the world and enjoy the perfect experience brought by innovative technology. Epson continues to contribute to China’s environmental protection and education, and is proud to be an excellent Chinese corporate citizen.