Media Release: Scottish show for Chinese explorer’s dragon ships’ adventure

Zheng He Web Resolution 05

THE Confucius Institute for Scotland is bringing a spectacular stage show about China’s most famous explorer to Edinburgh in June this week (Thursday, June 9, 2016).

Featuring puppets, video and animation, ‘Zheng He – When The Dragon Ships Came’ is making its Scottish debut for its only UK date this year.

The show tells the tale of the fantastic journeys of the famous Chinese explorer, Zheng He, whose fleet of 300 enormous ‘dragon ships’ with red sails and up to nine masts, journeyed via Indonesia, India, and the Arabian Coast to Africa – almost 100 years before Columbus set sail for America.

While every child in China knows the story of Zheng He’s travels – some suggest he was the inspiration for the legend of Sinbad The Sailor – in the west, this Chinese national hero’s epic adventures remain largely unknown.

This production, which is being held at the Central Hall, West Tollcross, has won many plaudits for its innovative set design with constant interaction between the screen and the action on stage.

The animated films, video clips, shadow images and masks form a constantly changing visual narrative while the multi-lingual audio and musical score ensure that audience members are captivated throughout the hour-long production.

The Institute, based in the University of Edinburgh, in association with Scotland China Education Network (SCEN), has arranged for two free shows for school groups in the capital on June 9 plus a ticketed event the same evening.

The award-winning show by Karin Schäfer of Figuren Theatre blends puppetry, video and animation and has been praised as “outstanding in the field of theatre for young audiences”.

Confucius Institute for Scotland director, Natascha Gentz, said: “This is an exciting show on a visual and technical level and we are proud to stage it in Edinburgh for the first time on its only UK performance this year.

“I am sure the school pupils will be intrigued by the tale of Zheng He and his ships that were so big European boats would have looked like nutshells beside them.

“Audiences of any age will be enthralled by the scale of the colourful adventure that unfolds in such dramatic fashion.” 

The two free shows for school groups are on at 10.30am and 1pm.

The ticketed evening performance has a 7pm start and bookings can be made through the Queen’s Hall Box Office – Online: 24hrs a day at

By telephone: (0131) 668 2019.


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