越剧
Shanghai Yueju
Haili Heaton
School of Performance and Cultural Industries
Xiqu - Chinese opera
• Definitions
Xi/Ju: play, joke, game, etc.; Qu: music
(Ci wei shi yu, qu wei ci yu)
• From play (xi) to drama (xiju)
Shaman (Nuoxi), Shang dynasty1766 B.C.
Jester (Huaji xi/Canjun xi), Zhou dynasty 1066 B.C.
speaking and singing art (Jiangchang/Bianwen), 800 A.D.
From play (xi) to drama (xiju): use of role categories
• Definition of Chinese opera (Xiqu)
‘(Xiqu) is to perform stories through dancing and singing … date from Song
Dynasty (960 A.D. – 1279 A.D.)’ (WANG Guowei: Song Yuan Opera Record
(Song Yuan Xiqu Kao, 1908)
Shamanism play (Nuo xi)
Beginning of Chinese opera, xiqu
• Song, Yuan Varies Drama (Song Yuan Zaju)
Song dynasty (960 –1279), Yuan Dynasty (1279 – 1368)
Song: rise of trade/Yuan: scholars driven to popular entertainment
from Baixi to Zaju: Wedge after each act/only one role sings in each act/women
commonly act male role
West Chamber (Xi Xiang Ji) by WANG Shifu
• Ming Marvel Tale (Ming Chuanqi)
Ming dynasty (1368 – 1644)
singing not limited to one role a time/high literacy/Water refined tune(kunqu) developed
to accompany Marvel tales – Kun opera
Peony Pavilion (Mu Dan Tin) by TANG Xianzu
• Qing dynasty (1644 – 1911)
decline of Kun opera and rise of regional theatre: over 300 operas by end Qing/mass
entertainment/low social statues
Beijing opera, from regional to state patron opera/dan to sheng
The Palace of Eternal Youth (Changsheng Dian) by Hong Sheng
Rise of Spoken drama (Huaju)
Yuan Varies Drama
Ming Marvel Tale
Kunqu Peony Pavilion
Kunqu, The Palace of Eternal Youth
Qing regional opera
Mei Lanfang and Vsevold Meyerhold, 1935
Beijing opera face painting and acrobatic skills
Shanghai Yueju
•
End of 19th century, Shenxian, Zhejiang province
•
Original form: Changshu (singing story), derived from Xunjun diao (Buddhist
story telling tune) + local folk tunes
•
Names: Changshu - Xiaoge Ban (Little song troupe) – Didu ban (didu troupe)
– Shaoxin Wenxi (Shaoxin civilian opera) – Yueju (Yue opera)
•
stage of development
1906, first performance
1906 – 1930s, male troupe in Shanghai
1923 – 1949, female troupe in Shanghai
1949 – 2004, centralized of Shanghai Yue opera – Shanghai Yue Theatre
2004 – today, marketization of Shanghai Yue Theatre
2006, centenary of Shanghai Yue opera
Yushan theatre, Shenxian, Zhejiang province
Famous male Yue opera
performers in Shanghai,
1920
1923 – 1938, female Yue opera in Shanghai
From 1923, first all female Yue opera troupe enter Shanghai to August 1938,
Shanghai Yue opera has grown to become the most popular performing art. The
following list shows the number of theatres specializing in different opera/huaju:
12 - Beijing opera,
3 - Shanghai opera,
2 - Play (huaju),
1 - Kun opera,
1 - Big Drum (Dagu)
12 - female Yue opera
(GAO, 1991: 65).
‘An actor’s theatre’
•
‘It is a presentational style in which the conjoined elements of song, dance,
mime, music, and dialogue are bound by set compositional and choreographic
rules, to produce a total rhythmic flux realized through the self-sufficiency of
the actor’s skill at all levels’
•
‘A typical play script is little more than a skeletal indicator … the actors with
their instinctive command of form and content required no script to set a live
performance in action … however, the most expressive acting in the light of
Chinese critical acumen is the product of something more than sheer
assimilation of technical forms by rote. …within the progression of the
rhythmic permutations which provide the basic structure of any play, the
actor’s total physical being is keyed to a pitch of instantaneous response at
several levels, a transcendent deployment of his own dynamism, and it is to
achieve this prized state that every actor is submitted to long and merciless
training’
Scott, ed. by Mackerras, Chinese Theatre 1983
1940’s Reform of Shanghai Yue opera
‘Kunqu and Huaju are the two nannies of Shanghai Yue opera, … it was them
who brought Yueju up’ (caress YUAN Xuefen, founder and first director of
Shanghai Yue Theatre
•
REALISM
‘美轮美奂’ ‘beautiful voice, beautiful image’ – pure
entertainment/escapism?
make up, hair style, acting
•
Director’s theatre
script, rehearsal,
Xianglin Aunty (Xianglin Sao, 1946)
Love of the Butterfly (Liangzhu) by Shanghai Yueju, 1954
Dream of the Red Mansion (Hong Lou Meng) by Shanghai Yue opera, 1958
1955, Shanghai Yue Opera Theatre
1956 – 1965, national development of Shanghai Yue
opera
1980s, second ‘Golden period of Shanghai Yue opera’
1990s, ‘Shanghai yue opera is the second most popular
Chinese operas after Beijing opera’ (Survey of CCTV)
20th century: marketization of Shanghai Yue opera
Spread of Shanghai Yue opera by 1965
Dream of the Red Mansion, Shanghai Yue Theatre 1983
Five Daughters’s at the Father’s Birthday Banquet by Zhejiang Hundred Flowers Yue
Opera Company, 1983
The Library, by Zhejiang Hundred Flower Yue Company, 2002
Love of the Butterfly, by Shanghai Yue Theatre, 2004
‘Alienation effects in Chinese Theatre’
- Bertolt Brecht
Importance of symbols:
Masks or painted face: character
Head piece: a general
Patched cloth: poverty
Gesture: open a door, across a river
Articles of furniture is carried onto stage: a horse whip, an oar
Walking across a bridge
Riding a horse
‘Chinese artist never acts as if there were a fourth wall besides the
three surrounding him. He expresses his awareness of being
watched. This immediately removes one of the European stage’s
characteristic illusions … the actors openly choose those positions
which will best show them off to the audience, just as if there were
acrobats … he will occasionally look at the audience as if to say:
isn’t it just like that?’ (Brecht, 1964: 91)
The Chinese artist’s performance often strikes the Western actor as
cold. … The coldness comes from the actor’s holding himself
remote from the charcter portrayed, … he is careful not to make its
sensations into those of the spectator. Nobody gets raped by the
individual he portrays; … the Western actor does all he can to bring
his spectator into the closest proximity to the events and the
character he has to portray’ (93)
1906 – 2006
Centenary of
Shanghai Yue opera
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Shanghai Yue opera presentation