Troupe to her­ald Lu­nar New Year with Pek­ing Opera

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE - By CHENNAN chennan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

On Satur­day, when the first day of the Chi­ne­seNewYear is cel­e­brated, Jingju The­ater Com­pany of Bei­jing will present a show at the con­cert hall of the For­bid­den City.

Ex­cerpts from tra­di­tional Pek­ing Opera pieces, such as Aus­pi­cious Dragon and the Phoenix and One Good Turn De­serves An­other will be staged along with con­tem­po­rary works, in­clud­ing Red De­tach­ment of Women and Tak­ing Tiger Moun­tain by Strat­egy. They will be pre­sented by Hu Wen’ge, Chi Xiao­qiu and more than a dozen other per­form­ers from the the­ater com­pany that was founded in 1979. China dur­ing theHanDy­nasty (206 BC-220).

Mei Lan­fang, Cheng Yan­qiu, Xun Huisheng and Shang Xiaoyun are con­sid­ered the top four Pek­ing Opera masters. They’re known for their nan dan (males play­ing fe­male roles) per­for­mances around a cen­tury ago. They also cre­ated four ma­jor per­form­ing styles named af­ter them. Shang Huimin is an in­her­i­tor of her grand­fa­ther’s Shang style.

“In ad­di­tion to his singing, my grand­fa­ther was known for his danc­ing and ac­ro­batic skills,” says Shang Huimin, whonowteaches per­form­ers of the Jingju troupe. “This is dif­fi­cult for young stu­dents to learn.”

In the past few years, there were few stu­dents fol­low­ing the Shang style, she adds.

“But since I was in­vited to give classes at Jingju The­ater Com­pany of Bei­jing last year, I am glad to see that young ac­tors work hard to un­der­stand the per­form­ing tech­niques cre­ated by my grand­fa­ther.”

Young Pek­ing Opera prac­ti­tion­ers today also use tech­nol­ogy to pro­mote the art form, such as stream­ing their daily prac­tice ses­sions and com­mu­ni­cat­ing with fans on so­cial me­dia.

Dou Xiaox­uan will also per­form on Satur­day.

The 31-year-old grad­u­ate of the Na­tional Acad­emy of Chi­nese The­ater Arts has been study­ing un­der fa­mous Pek­ing Opera ac­tresses, such as Du Jin­fang and LiWeikang.

Dou, who has been with Jingju The­ater Com­pany of Bei­jing since 2006, will per­form ex­cerpts from The Pe­ony Pavil­ion, aKunqu Opera piece writ­ten by Ming Dy­nasty (1368-1644) play­wright Tang Xianzu.

“I want to per­form dif­fer­ently in this show so I de­cided to per­for­mKun­quOpera,” says Dou, adding that she is keen to have the au­di­ence ap­pre­ci­ate the beauty of Kunqu, an even older art form that was once dom­i­nant in south­ern China.

The Jingju troupe is sup­port­ive of young ac­tors learn­ing Kunqu Opera be­cause many Pek­ing Opera masters also learned it, she says.

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Dou Xiaox­uan is one of the young ac­tresses play­ing in the Pek­ing Opera shows this week­end.

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