Chinese Opera: The Actor's Craft
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Chinese opera embraces over 360 different styles of theatre that make one of the richest performance arts in the world. It combines music, speech, poetry, mime, acrobatics, stage fighting, vivid face-painting and exquisite costumes. First experiences of Chinese opera can be baffling because its vocabulary of stagecraft is familiar only to the seasoned aficionado. Chinese Opera: The Actor's Craft makes the experience more accessible for everyone. This book uses breath-taking images of Chinese opera in performance by Hong Kong photographer Siu Wang-Ngai to illustrate and explain Chinese opera stage technique. The book explores costumes, gestures, mime, acrobatics, props and stage techniques. Each explanation is accompanied by an example of its use in an opera and is illustrated by in-performance photographs. Chinese Opera: The Actor's Craft provides the reader with a basic grammar for understanding uniquely Chinese solutions to staging drama.
leaps upon a chair, holding her fan in a brash and bold manner to demonstrate how satisfied she is with herself (see Photo 3.24). She does not know, however, that she is about to meet her match in the great hero, Wu Song. Photo 3.25 Zhang Fei Honours the Sage Magistrate, Peking Opera In another opera, a famous warrior from the great novel The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Zhang Fei, uses a large fan to show another side of his character. Known as a rough, brusque fighter, Zhang Fei is loud and
part of their family. His daughter, Xiuying, and her mother run a tea house after Chen Yong dies. One day, a handsome youth, Kuang Zhong, comes to drink tea, but is mesmerized by the beautiful bow. He cannot keep his hands off it. He picks it up and bends the bow three times. Xiuying sees this and instantly gives her heart to him. The couple take a series of beautiful poses with the bow, expressing their love (see Photo 4.32). Special Weapons Certain weapons on the stage denote individual
Haunting of Zhang Sanlang Chengdu Sichuan Opera Theatre Yan Xijiao, Zhang Sanlang Tian Huiwen, Li Zenglin 1991 6.05 Sichuan The Legend of the White Snake Chengdu Sichuan Opera Theatre Begging Bowl Spirit Xiao Ting 1991 6.06 Sichuan The Legend of the White Snake Chengdu Sichuan Opera Theatre Begging Bowl Spirit Xiao Ting 1991 6.07 Sichuan The Legend of the White Snake Chengdu Sichuan Opera Theatre Begging Bowl Spirit Xiao Ting 1991 6.08 Sichuan The Legend of the White
his back, the powerful blade facing upward, and strikes a momentary pose that wins the admiration of the audience (see Photo 2.28). Photo 2.29 Lu Wenlong and His Double Spears, Hebei Clapper Opera Lu Wenlong has defeated general after general including the powerful Yue Yun. In a moment of self-satisfaction and bravado, he takes the pose “back crossed double spears” (see Photo 2.29). This pose is used by both male and female warriors to demonstrate their agility and skill with weapons. Special
forcibly grabs the horse’s reins, bracing himself against the animal. The actor stretches out her horsewhip, arches her back and raises her right leg in a position known as “exploring the sea” to portray the sudden stop (see Photo 3.10). Photo 3.11 Cao Cao and Yang Xiu, Peking Opera Several riders can ride together in a group “horse ride” as in the opera Cao Cao and Yang Xiu. General Cao Cao’s horse becomes frightened and steps into a forbidden field. Such a transgression requires the rider to