The Beijing People's Art Theater has launched its first play of the year, "The Emperor's Favored One". Its public rehearsal for the press was staged last night. With a brand new cast and costumes, the play aims to create a new take on a great classic.

"The Emperor’s Favored One" tells the story of ambition and greed during the period of the "Three Kingdoms." The ruler Cao Cao in his last days, chooses his successor from among his three sons. Cao Pi, the eldest, seizes the crown and plots against his brothers.

The story focuses on the darker side of humanity. The battles are fierce. The speeches poetic and pointed.

"The Emperor’s Favored One" debuted in 1995 and won the Wenhua Prize for best script and best performance. 17 years later, the play is being co-directed by veteran director Su Min and new director Tang Ye, infusing modern elements into the story.

Director Tang Ye said, "We have to use past experience and apply a modern interpretation, our audiences are modern and we think they will appreciate this modern performance."

Pu Cunxin plays the dying old king. 17 years ago, he played the role of Caozhi, the talented son, who loses his right to the throne. Pu Cunxin shares his experience with the young actor, Liu Hui, who plays the character now.

Pu said, "I’ve shared my experiences with him, but i’d never expect him to do things my way. Sometimes I look back and I think I played the role disastrously. So you have to let the younger generation of actors develop their own style."

Liu said, "They teach and influence us in one way or another. It’s a good opportunity for us young actors to learn from them."

"The Emperor’s Favored One" hits the stage on Wednesday and will run through to February 15th.