Hello, my name is Li Zelin, you can call me Ze. I am a theater practitioner and artist. You can also call me a creator, a theater director, a performer.
I was born in Xiamen, China, a small island off the southeast coast of China. But my parents are from another province in northern China, Shandong. After I became an adult, I lived and studied in Shanghai for 6 years, and then continued my study and practice in Berlin. For some reason, I don't have a hometown with which I feel fully identified.
The traditional Chinese comedy "Xiangsheng" and the dramatic form "Xiaopin" based on many traditional Chinese theater forms have had a great influence on me. My theater enlightenment began with the imitation of excellent works in these two forms. After I became an adult, I studied and lived in Shanghai for 6 years. During this period, I studied and practiced theater in the Yangzhishui Drama Association of East China Normal University. Gradually, I became interested in the context of contemporary theater. Outside of school, I studied and practiced in the fields of improvisational comedy, puppetry, and theater education. In 2018, I started to learn street dance in the dance studio. Two years later, I started to learn contemporary jazz, contemporary dance and basic ballet. After that, I participated in the mime workshop of Sara Mangano & Pierre-Yves Massip, which opened up my different understanding of the body . With my longing for contemporary theater creation and my desire to explore the body, I went to Berlin arthaus.berlin in 2021 to study Devised Theater & Performance and Embodied Dramaturgy.
I am always passionate about trying what I WANT to try, I make decisions based on what I WANT to do, and I enjoy hearing the calling and find it out. I think this hodgepodge learning style fits perfectly with contemporary theater. In my understanding, contemporary theater is a container, a medium, which can accommodate any form, theme, and material. As for what will be born in the end, it depends entirely on the chef(s) themselves.
I believe that everything I have experienced and the grand history behind it have made me, of which my shallow understanding of philosophy and the Chinese soil that nourished me account for a large proportion. Under the influence of all this, I tend to be wary of most things and try not to judge black and white by labels, but to ask where things come from. I believe the truth lies more in "where they from" than "what they are".
I explore in what I defined as the contemporary context, and I attach great importance to the integrity and atmosphere of the work. I focused to individual narratives, the unnoticed corners and gray areas in this era, and the current situation of people, especially our generation. The topics include but are not limited to loneliness, choices, relationships, fate, and how to settle in this world.
There are 44 "I"s in the whole text, because I believe that there is no art, only artists, and all my works (including this text) start from me and describe the world with my prejudice; and I also I believe that only by starting from the countless personal "I" can we get a glimpse of the truth of the world.
Words can't tell you who I am very well, if you want to know more about me, check out my work.
BEFORE THE FLOWERS BLOOM
Concept: Li Zelin
Balloons flying by the sea. Giant beasts and castles appeared in the sand. He found
himself wearing clothes, landed here, with this letter in his hand. He didn't know where it
came from, and who it belonged to?
People often see dreams as the antithesis of reality. Reality should be descriptive,
logical, and unfold rationally in accordance with linear time. But when my body starts to
swim between different colors, smells, images, emotions, when I am asleep or awake, I
build or find a space that I can’t extricate myself from, the narrative system that defines
reality based on the Western context has become suspicious. Does time keep going like
a river or does it cycle like seasons? What exactly constitutes the inner connection
between me and you and the world? I can only embody asking questions and try to catch
the uncertain, looming answers...
This work relies on the creator’s own situation, trying to create a flowing dream. The
audiences are invited to move freely in the venue, among the images, installations and
the performer, to experience all this in their own way and get their own answers about
dreams and reality.
Please note that this work is a phased and in-process work of my project: “Between
Dreams and Reality”. Both this work and this project are still in development and