Actress's Life Lessons Evoke Poignant Performance

THE star of ``The Blue Kite'' is Lu Liping, a versatile young actress whose challenging part requires her to age 14 years and pass through a wide variety of emotional situations. Her earlier work includes a deservedly praised performance in Wu Tianming's drama ``Old Well'' and a leading role in ``Story of an Editorial Department,'' a popular Chinese television series.

Wu's commitment to acting started at an early age, partly because of interests she picked up from her older brother, a member of the Fifth Generation cinema group.

``I was already reading Stanislavsky when I was in high school,'' she says, referring to the Russian theorist whose views on performance have been highly influential around the world.

``I was also an aspiring musician, playing violin, but I wasn't happy as a member of the orchestra because it was too much a group activity. I wanted more individual activity.... Acting is like music because they both [allow for] subtle changes, and they're both strong in evoking moods.''

Lu received her formal training at the Central Drama Academy in Beijing, where Stanislavsky's theories were considered very important. She then gained early experience at the Shanghai Film Studio and the China Youth Theatre Troupe.

E had to study [theories of drama] for four years,'' she recalls, ``although two years would have been enough!''

As an experiment, her teacher supplemented Stanislavsky's emphasis on psychology and memory as acting tools - an approach used by many Hollywood and Broadway performers - with exercises calling for students to imitate strangers they observed in the streets. Also in the curriculum were dance, art theory, makeup techniques, and Communist Party history.

Lu lists such Hollywood stars as Robert De Niro and Daniel Day-Lewis among the Western performers she admires.

But she feels her technique derives less from other performers than from her own life experiences - such as her off-screen career as mother of a six-year-old son, which gave her ``much confidence'' for playing the mother in ``The Blue Kite.''

No matter how a script is written, she says, ``A character always has to be from real life. I can always find a personal way to connect with a role and a character.''

In the future she hopes to go beyond film acting, an activity she now finds ``rather passive,'' and bring her personal touch to movie directing, as well - a development that is sure to please her growing number of fans in East and West alike.

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