You are on page 1of 21

HISTORY

AND
FORMS
OF
CHINESE
THEATER  WWW.EUSS.EDU
BRIEF HISTORY AND
BACKGROUND ON CHINESE
THEATER
-As elsewhere in the world, it is also in China that the origins of the theatrical arts seem
to lie in early religious rituals, in China most probably in shamanistic rites.
-It is known that during the Shang dynasty (c. 1766–1066 BC) hunting dances as well as
dances imitating animals were performed. As has been already discussed on several
occasions, the dances imitating animals and employing the so-called “animal
movements” have been common in most cultures. In fact, animal movements still form
an integral part of many martial art, dance and theatre traditions today.
-The so-called chorus dances were popular during the Zhou (Chou) dynasty (c.
1066–221 BC). They were divided into two groups: wu dances performed by men and xi
(hsi) dances performed by women. Besides religious rituals, there were less ceremonial
types of performances, such as comic numbers performed by clowns and dwarfs as well
as displays of acrobatic skills.
 SHADOW PLAY

SHADOW PUPPETRY, OR SHADOW


PLAY, WAS VERY POPULAR
DURING THE TANG (618 - 907) AND
SONG (960 - 1279) DYNASTIES IN
MANY PARTS OF CHINA. SHADOW
PUPPETS WERE FIRST MADE OF
PAPER SCULPTURE, LATER FROM
THE LEATHER OF DONKEYS OR
OXEN. THAT'S WHY THEIR
CHINESE NAME IS PI YING, WHICH
MEANS SHADOWS OF LEATHER.
SHADOW PLAY 
-As the form spread throughout the nation from its origins in northern
central China, each region developed its own aesthetic style that
directly reflected their cultural values.  Shaanxi province (northern
central China) aesthetics have cultivated a large rounded forehead in
their facial profiles to reiterate the importance of intelligence.
 Tangshan county (northeastern China) masters explained their sharp
and dramatic profiles as reflecting the region’s overriding love of
beauty.  In Shandong and Hubei province, their relatively realistic
profile features reveal their penchant for honesty.  

-There are two distinct types of shadow puppetry: Cantonese


(Southern) and Pekingese (Northern)

-Cantonese puppets were larger in size and made with thicker leather,
resulting in more substantial shadows.

-Pekingese puppets on the other hand were thinner and smaller in size,
and were coloured in vibrant and striking paints. 
PEKINGESE
(NORTHERN)
PUPPETS
CANTONESE
(SOUTHERN)
PUPPETS
XIANGSHENG
XIANGSHENG, ALSO KNOWN AS
CROSSTALK, IS A TRADITIONAL CHINESE
COMEDIC PERFORMING ARTS, AND ONE
OF CHINA'S MOST POPULAR CULTURAL
ELEMENTS. IT IS TYPICALLY IN THE FORM
OF A DUO DIALOGUE BETWEEN TWO
PERFORMERS, BUT MUCH LESS OFTEN
CAN ALSO BE A MONOLOGUE BY A SOLO
PERFORMER, OR EVEN LESS
FREQUENTLY, A GROUP ACT BY
MULTIPLE PERFORMERS. THE
XIANGSHENG LANGUAGE, RICH IN PUNS
AND ALLUSIONS, IS DELIVERED IN A
RAPID, BANTERING STYLE, TYPICALLY IN
THE BEIJING DIALECT (OR IN STANDARD
CHINESE WITH A STRONG NORTHERN
ACCENT). THE ACTS WOULD SOMETIMES
INCLUDE SINGING, CHINESE RAPPING
AND MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS.
PEKING OPERA
-PEKING OPERA IS THE
DOMINANT DANCE'DRAMA
GENRE IN CHINA. NO MASKS
ARE WORN. INSTEAD THE
ACTORS WEAR MAKE UP
THAT IS INTENDED TO
HIGHLIGHT THEIR FACIAL
FEATURES. THE FOCUS OF
THE ART FORM IS SPECTACLE
AND ATHLETICISM.
S
PEKING OPERA
-In its early years Peking Opera was looked down upon by the scholar class but was popular among
the general population. Peking Opera actors were considered the dregs of society, equal in status
to prostitutes and pimps. Many actors were rumored to be homosexuals, which didn't them
overcome their low social position. Laws prohibited woman from performing in Peking Opera and
young boys were sold under contract and trained for the women's roles.

- From the late 19th to mid 20th century, it was northern China most popular theatrical
entertainment and regarded as the highest artistic expression of Chinese culture. Opera were
usually performed in teahouses, private parties in restaurant-theaters, guild halls and wealthy
people's homes. Performances were often held at New Year's celebrations, weddings, and
sometimes even at funerals and ancestor worshiping ceremonies. By the late 19th century Peking
Opera began emphasizing heroic drama and was embraced by the royal court.

-Few props are used in a Peking Opera. All the attention is focused on the actors, who play roles
that everyone familiar with Peking Opera recognizes. The roles usually fall into one of four
categories: 1) sheng (male roles such as scholars, soldiers and officials); 2) dan (female roles such
as mothers, maids and female warriors); 3) jing (painted face characters such as demons,
adventurers and heroes); and 4) fujing (clowns).

Male roles are divided into four categories: 1) laosheng (old men with beards); 2) xiaosheng (young
men); 3) wensheng/haosheng (scholars and bureaucrats); and 4) wusheng (fighters, who often do
the acrobatic roles). The five most important female roles are: 1) laodan (respected elderly
mothers or aunts); 2) qinyi (aristocratic ladies, in elaborate costumes); 3) huadan (female servants,
in bright costumes); 4) daomdan (female warriors); and 5) guimendan (female comedians).
QINGYI OR
ZHENGDAN 
-QINGYI IS THE MAIN
WOMAN ROLES IN
TRADITIONAL CHINESE
DRAMA. QINGYI IS THE
MOST IMPORTANT ROLE IN
PEKING OPERA AND PLAYS
DIGNIFIED, SERIOUS, AND
DECENT CHARACTERS,
WHICH ARE MOSTLY WIVES
OR MOTHERS. THE ROLES
DRESS IN YELLOW CLOTHES
AND FEATURE A SMALL
RANGE OF MOTION, AND
SINGINGWITH A PURE AND
HIGH-PITCHED QUALITY.
LAODAN
A LAODAN PLAYS AN
OLD AND CLEVER
WOMAN. UNLIKE OTHER
FEMALE ROLES, A
LAODAN WEARS NO
MAKE-UP, AND HER
COSTUME IS MORE
SUBDUED IN COLOR
AND DESIGN. HER
VOICE IS NATURAL AND
NOT HIGH-PITCHED.
WWW.EUSS.EDU
HUADAN
HUADAN IS THE
VIVACIOUS AND
UNMARRIED WOMAN
ROLE INPEKING OPERA.
COMPARED TO A QINGYI, A
HUADAN IS NOT OF SUCH
A HIGH SOCIAL CLASS. HER
COSTUME IS VIVID IN
DESIGN AND COLOR, AND
USUALLY CARRYING A RED
HANDKERCHIEF IN HER
HAND. THE VOICE OF
HUADAN HAS A GAYER
AND STRONGER QUALITY.
DAOMADAN
DAOMADAN IS A FEMALE
WARRIOR ROLE IN PEKING
OPERA. LIKE THE MALE ROLE
OF WUSHENG, DAOMADAN
ACTORS TRAIN MAINLY FOR
ACTION, SINGING, AND
PERFORMING SKILLFULLY.
THE FEATURES OF THE ROLE
ARE THE HEAD-DRESS AND
MILITARY WEAPONS. THE
MOST FAMOUS DAOMADAN
ROLE IS MU GUIYING, WHO IS
A HEROINE IN CHINESE
HISTORY, FAMED FOR HER
MILITARY PROWESS.
GUIMENDAN
GUIMENDAN IS AN
UNMARRIED AND YOUNG
GIRL ROLE. HER
IMMATURITY IS CLEARLY
SHOWN IN HER
REACTIONS. THOUGH
NAUGHTY AND SLIGHTLY
MISCHIEVOUS. THE
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE
ROLE ARE MOSTLY ARE
INTROVERTED AND SHY.
XIAOSHENG 
XIAOSHENG IS A
HANDSOME YOUNG MALE
WITH NO BEARD IN PEKING
OPERA ROLES. THE ROLES
SINGS IN A HIGH-PITCHED
AND SHRILL VOICE, WITH
SUDDEN BREAKS FROM HIS
HIGH-PITCHED VOICE TO
REPRESENT THE VOICE
CHANGING PERIOD OF
ADOLESCENCE.
XIAOSHENG CAN BE
DIVISION INTO WEN
XIAOSHENG (A YOUNG
SCHOLAR) AND WU
XIAOSHENG (A YOUNG
WARRIOR). 
LAOSHENG
LAOSHENG ACTORS ARE
REQUIRED TO ATTAIN THE
DIGNITY OF BEARING AND
GENTLE, POLISHED MANNERS
OF THE MIDDLE-AGED
MANDARIN OFFICIAL OR
SCHOLAR. LAOSHENG ROLES
INCLUDED GENERALS OR
HIGH-RANKING OFFICERS OF
THE MILITARY, BUT THEY HAD
A MORE CULTIVATED
DISPOSITION THAN THOSE OF
REAL LIFE.
HONGSHENG
HONGSHENG MEANT THE
CHARACTER HAD A RED
FACE, A SUB-CATEGORY OF
LAOSHENG.
THERE ARE ONLY TWO
ROLES KNOWN AS
HONGSHENG. ONE IS GUAN
GONG AND THE OTHER IS
ZHAO KUANGYIN. GUAN
GONG IS ONE OF THE
IMPORTANT ROLES IN THE
CHINESE CLASSICAL NOVEL
“THE ROMANCE OF THE
THREE KINGDOMS”. A
HONGSHENG’S VOICE IS
VIGOROUS AND HIGH-
PITCHED.
WUSHENG
WUSHENG ACTORS MUST
BE GOOD AT MARTIAL ARTS
ROLES. THE ACTOR
PERFORMS WITH SWORDS
AND SPEARS WIELDED
DEFTLY AND QUICKLY
WITHOUT THE ATTACKER
ACTUALLY TOUCHING HIS
OPPONENT. ALTHOUGH
WUSHENG ROLES
REQUIREA HIGHLY
STANDARD OF
ACROBATICS, THEY MUST
WWW.EUSS.EDU

ALSO HAVE A NATURAL


VOICE WHEN SINGING.
JING
A JING ROLE IS A
PROMINENT MALE
CHARACTER WITH
STRIKING LOOKS AND HIGH
SOCIAL POSITION. BOTH
POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE
CHARACTERS CAN BE
PLAYED IN THIS ROLE.
PEOPLE CAN KNOW THE
ROLE’S CHARACTER BASED
ON HIS FACE COLOR: RED
FOR GOOD, BLACK FOR
BRAVE, UPRIGHT OR
RECKLESS, WHITE FOR
TREACHEROUS AND
CUNNING, YELLOW FOR
BRUTAL, BLUE FOR WILD.
CHOU
CHOU IS A COMEDY ROLE IN
PEKING OPERA. IT CAN BE
DIVIDED INTO TWO TYPES:
WENCHOU, A CIVILIAN ROLE
SUCH AS A MERCHANT OR
JAILER; AND WUCHOU, A
MILITARY ROLE, SKILLED IN
ACROBATICS. THE
CHARACTERISTIC OF THIS
TYPE OF PAINTED FACE ROLE
IS A SMALL PATCH OF WHITE
CHALK AROUND THE NOSE.
THANK YOU
FOR LISTENING

G16 AERISH SIMBULAN | GROUP II | 8-KEPLER