HISTORIC MONKEY BUSINESS
Shaoju Opera widely known for playful performances
Shaoju is a regional opera originating from Shaoxing, East China’s Zhejiang province. With a history dating back nearly 400 years, Shaoju has had more than 400 play programs and is widely known for the performance of the monkey character.
China’s monkey plays can be categorized by region and defined as southern and northern styles. The northern style is represented by Peking Opera, while Shaoju is the best-known southern style monkey play.
Shaoju performing masters Zhang Zongyi and Zhang Zongxin, whose stage names are Liulingtong and Qilingtong, respectively, introduced the monkey character into the performance of Shaoju in the 1940s. Zhang Jinlai, better known as Liuxiaolingtong, created a sensation by playing the role of the Monkey King in the popular TV series Journey to the West in 1986.
In 2008, Shaoju was listed as an national intangible cultural heritage. Liu Jianyang is a successor to the great performers and has been hailed as the "New Monkey King of Jiangnan”. Under his leadership, the Shaoju Art Research Institute of Zhejiang stages nearly 100 Monkey King plays every year.
Liu Jianyang is hailed as the "New Monkey King of Jiangnan”.
Liu wears make-up backstage during a performance in Dashanxi village of Shaoxing in East China’s Zhejiang province on Jan 19.
The Shaoju Art Research Institute of Zhejiang stages nearly 100 Monkey King plays every year.
Liu Jianyang (right) is an inheritor of Shaoju, a national intangible cultural heritage Shaoju.