Shadow art popularity resurges as in old times
“The shadow play is a great way to educate people about morality and values. If I let the shadow play art of Wangcheng die out in my generation, then I am no better than a criminal!” said Zhu Guoqiang, a lifelong shadow play performer in Wangcheng district, Changsha, capital of Hunan province.
Shadow play, also known as shadow puppetry, is an ancient form of entertainment that uses paper cut-outs or hidden puppets to tell heroic sagas. A good performance requires sophisticated control over both shadow and light, delicately made paper figures, storytelling skills, as well as creative use of various musical instruments.
Wangcheng , a historical town of Changsha, Hunan province, has been known for its shadow plays since the Qing dynasty (1644-1911). Zhu’s family has run shadow art troupes for generations. Born in 1962, Zhu entered the line of work when he was 15 years old and later became the fifth successor of this family tradition.
“Back in the day, shadow play was popular. We had work the whole year round,” he said. “There was a time I had more than 10,000 people in the audience.”