Wild Zebra makes Scottish debut at the Edinburgh Playhouse

“The Chinese Dream” is the overarching  theme of the new Chinese leadership under President Xi Jinping. And for one primary school in Haidian, Beijing, a small part of that dream will come true this summer, when its pupils perform in the UK's largest theatre, The Edinburgh Playhouse on Thursday 13th August.

Wild Zebra is a spectacular fantasy ballet created by General Zhang Jigang, one of the famed "Three Zhangs" who produced the opening and closing ceremonies for the Beijing Olympics in 2008. For more than a year 150 pupils aged from 8 to 12, from the Zhonguancun No. 2 Primary School, have been rehearsing. Their show has a full ballet corps of 75 dancers, and a full symphony orchestra of similar size.

Wild Zebra's debut made a splash in China – covered on CCTV national news (China's equivalent of the BBC). And several TV stations have committed to following the tour to the UK, along with newspapers including Global Times, and Tencent, the Chinese social media operator that is the biggest in the world.

The show tells the story of the struggle between an evil bear and a wild zebra who is willing to sacrifice all to save her loved one.

One of the key messages of Wild Zebra is a theme of common interest that inspires young people throughout the world today - the importance of protecting wildlife and nurturing the environment. This is now a critical issue in China, and the Chinese government has made environmental protection one of its very highest priorities.

"I should emphasize that this is a not-for-profit project," says Jiang Tao. "We are trying to secure support and sponsorship at the highest levels in China and Scotland. So far, the results have been very encouraging – but we are still looking! We need sponsorship because we do have to cover our costs – and the best venues in Britain don't come cheap. But our sponsors will get great exposure in China through coverage by the biggest television broadcasters, newspapers, and social networking sites in the country."

"If we can generate a surplus," he adds, "We'll try to make donations to appropriate charities such as WWF, and we'll reinvest the money in supporting children on cultural exchanges between China and the UK.

2015 has been formally designated as China-UK Year of Cultural Exchange, and Wild Zebra is part of the official program of events. It has been entered in the "Fringe Firsts" competition.

Underpinned by a government-to-government agreement set out at the UK-China Summit in London in 2014, and launched during the visit of Prince William to China in March, the 2015 UK-China Year of Cultural Exchange will showcase the very best of UK culture in China and Chinese culture in the UK. The Year will comprise two ‘seasons’ of culture – a UK season in China in the first half of 2015 and a China season in the UK in the second half of 2015. Hundreds of millions of people in China, the UK and globally will have access to the very best of British and Chinese arts.

Oriental FairyTales - Wild Zebra,
The Edinburgh Playhouse
13 August @ 19:30
Tickets: £18; Concessions £14; Family ticket (x 4) £40.
Playhouse Box Office: 0844 871 3014
Fringe Box Office: 0131 226 0000