Peony Pavilion
Object Play
16th century

One of the most performed dramas by Tang Xianzu (1550–1616), The Peony Pavilion is a comic-yet-tragic romance in which dreams, facts, images, and reality become fatally entangled. Set during the waning days of the Southern Song dynasty (1127–1279), the play centers on a young girl who falls asleep in a garden. In her dream, she begins a passionate romance that builds into an obsession after she awakens and ultimately consumes her. Before her death of lovesickness, she leaves a self-portrait in a garden with the futile hope that the illusory lover of her dream will pick it up.


With refined, lavish lyrics and sophisticated philosophical overtones, The Peony Pavillion has been hailed as a high point of Chinese literature.

Integrating the arts of stage design and interactive digital media, CAMLab’s Peony Pavilion project explores a new prototype of immersive storytelling to re-stage Chinese classical dramas. Conjuring the imaginary world of The Peony Pavilion, this immersive exhibition creates a sequence of spaces in which projected images, objects, and architecture compose a world that straddles reality and illusion. Each room of the show features an interactive digital installation. The prototypes of the installations come from a series of symbolic objects from the drama: a vase, a mirror, a lamp, a screen, and a box. By interacting with these installations, the audiences are led into different episodes of the play, experiencing and exploring its multifaceted cultures in a non-linear way.