Source: China State Council Information Office 3
A training program was launched in Beijing to cultivate young actors for the comic roles of Peking Opera, a category that has been lacking attention and emergence of new talents.
The Beijing Culture and Arts Fund is sponsoring the program. The young talents will be trained to perform the kung fu comedy roles of the Ye Shengzhang school derived from the Peking Opera system.
Professor Sun Ping, a female Peking Opera master and dean and doctoral tutor of the Art Research School of Beijing Foreign Studies University, spoke at the launch ceremony held at the Jingju Theater in Beijing, saying she hoped the intensive training could arouse the audience’s interest in opera martial arts, and enhance stage practice and further promote Peking Opera .
With the literature resources of the Research Institute of the Fu Lian Cheng Troupe and the teaching resources drawn from descendants and disciples of the Fu Lian Cheng Troupe, she hoped the arts of kung fu comedy acting of the Ye Shengzhang school could be inherited and passed on systematically on a large scale.
At the same time, she called on opera educators to keep in mind of “maintaining the integrity of the arts while making innovations.”
Liu Tong, president of the Jingju Theater, emphasized there were many problems to be resolved in the contemporary inheritance and development of Peking Opera. The most important was the exploration, arrangement, and inheritance of traditional operas, as well as the cultivation of opera talents.
“The traditional opera repertoire is the richest and most fertile spiritual and cultural soil of Peking opera art. The various schools and styles on stage are all reflected in the repertoire, and Peking Opera talent is the key to the inheritance and continuation of these repertoires,” Liu said.
“I hope that young actors can eagerly learn Ye school arts, and can carry forward and promote the arts in the contemporary era and make more contributions to Peking Opera art,” he added.
Ye Shengzhang, who died at the age of 54 in 1966, was honored as a People’s Artist and the greatest performer in the “chou” role, one of the four main roles in Peking Opera involving the comic role that can perform comedy sketches and also martial arts. However, as the most resources and attention often point actors towards the leading male and female roles, the comic roles lack support.
The program will invite famous chou performers such as Liu Xizhong, Lang Shichang, and Ye Jinsen to be teachers. Ye Jinsen, a student of Ye Shengzhang and the grandson of Peking Opera educator and performing master Ye Chunshan, remembers his teacher for his precious qualities of being strict in self-discipline, good at thinking, learning from others, and being highly responsible for art preservation.
The training program is the second edition since the first one in 2016, with support of the Jingju Theater, the National Peking Opera Company, Northern Kunqu Opera Theatre, Beijing’s Hebei Bangzi Opera Troupe, the National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts and the Beijing Opera Art’s College, exploring effective linkages and interaction among the art funds, universities and colleges, and troupes. The program will mainly focus on training talents from opera troupes and colleges.
Two shows are scheduled to be performed at the end of training to examine the effectiveness of the program.