Gai Jiao­tian Learns Pek­ing Opera

盖叫天学戏

Special Focus - - Contents - By Qin Lyuzhi

Qin Lyuzhi 秦绿枝

Apart from prac­tic­ing his crafts, Gai Jiao­tian, a Pek­ing Opera artist, spent most of his time on deep med­i­ta­tion. How­ever, he was not sim­ply sit­ting around do­ing noth­ing— he was think­ing about his opera, and the “logic” be­hind it.

He got into the habit of think­ing this way when he was a kid. He re­marked, “When I was young, my teacher wouldn’t tell me di­rectly what to do. In­stead, he would guide me to the an­swer.” When Gai learned the Opera

Wu Song Fights the Tiger, his teacher asked him sev­eral ques­tions.

“How old is Wu Song?” The teacher asked.

When Gai gave the an­swer, an­other ques­tion im­me­di­ately came, “What is he do­ing now?”

“He’s leav­ing home,” Gai an­swered.

“Why?” Gai thought for a while and an­swered, “Be­cause of the famine in his home­town, Wu has to find food.”

The teacher quizzed, “Think about it care­fully, Gai. Is he hun­gry be­fore he gets food?”

“Of course he’s hun­gry,” Gai an­swered.

The teacher fol­lowed up the ques­tion by ask­ing, “How would a per­son walk when he’s hun­gry?”

It was noon at that point and Gai was fam­ished. He hadn’t eaten any­thing since he woke up. He was so hun­gry that he was about to faint, so the teacher gave him a break, let­ting him have a bite to eat. Af­ter lunch, the teacher asked if he re­mem­bered how he walked when he was hun­gry. Gai af­firmed that he did. The teacher then asked him to walk the same way. Gai tried to walk while think­ing of how he felt when he was hun­gry.

The old ver­sion of WuSong

Fight­s­theTiger starts from the point in the story where Wu Song leaves his home­town. He is starv­ing when he is on the way to find Chai Jin. The rea­son why the teacher asked Gai so many ques­tions was to guide him to feel where Wu Song was at. With the first-hand ex­pe­ri­ence of ex­treme hunger, Gai un­der­stood how to present that same feel­ing on stage.

( From In­ter­viewwith­Gai

Jiao­tian , Shanghai Peo­ple’s Pub­lish­ing House. Trans­la­tion: Yu Lan)

Gai Jiao­tian and his teacher 盖叫天与他的师父

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