Founded in 1983, the Plum Blossom Award of Chinese Theatre is the first arts award established to recognize and encourage out­standing theatre performers with the goal of promoting theatre development in China. The award has been held 26 times over the past three decades, and its achievements have borne fruitful rec­ognition. Amid the appraised works were 54 genres of xiqu, such as Jingju and Kunju, as well as genres like drama, opera, musical and dance drama. The 634 award-winning artists come from 30 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities of the mainland, as well as Hong Kong and Taiwan. Among the award-winning art­ists, 42 have won the award twice, while seven performing artists, namely Shang Changrong, Song Guofeng, Mao Weitao, Pei Yan­ling, Gu Xiang, Shen Tiemei, and Feng Yuping, were elected three times (Plum Blossom Grand Award). With their extensive influence throughout the nation and significant contributions to the develop­ment of xiqu, the Plum Blossom Award-winning artists are a valu­able asset and an indispensable force in the theatre scene in China.

The Plum Blossom Award Art Troupe was formed by the Chinese Theatre Association on 30 June 2005. With a mission to promote traditional Chinese culture, the Troupe has staged multiple per­formances in the Greater China region, Australia, France, USA, Germany and elsewhere. While encouraging cultural exchange in the cross-strait region, it also serves to promote Chinese culture in a global context. In the past eight years, the Troupe has performed 115 shows and attracted a total audience of 400,000. Being popular at home and overseas, the Troupe is gradually establishing itself as an icon both in China and the international arena.

The Excerpt Performances

Hong Kong has the world's most passionate xiqu audience. Apart from local Cantonese opera, genres such as Jingju, Kunju, Yueju, and many other regional xiqu are also much loved. This year the West Kowloon Bamboo Theatre will collaborate with the Chinese Theatre Association to invite top xiqu artists from the Plum Blossom Award Art Troupe to give four excerpt performances to Hong Kong audiences.

The “Plum Blossom Award” is the highest level of recognition in Chinese theatre. It is also an important indicator of artistic achievement among outstanding actors and art groups. This year, the West Kowloon Bamboo Theatre has invited 32 Plum Blossom award winners from ten different xiqu genres, namely Jingju, Kunju, Qinqiang, Yueju, Huangmei Xi, Chuanju, Huaiju, Xiangju, Yangju and Xiju. These Plum Blossom Award-winning artists are representatives and leaders of their specialties. Tang Yuen-ha, one of the performers at the Bamboo Theatre this year, was the first Plum Blossom Award win­ner from Hong Kong, who received the 8th Plum Blossom Award in 1991. These acclaimed performers together will bring the Bamboo Theatre audience classic repertoire and masterpieces. In view of the popularity with audiences of Jingju, Kunju and Yueju, we have reserved one special performance for each of these three genres. Excerpts of other different genres will be arranged in a joint perfor­mance which showcases their distinct characteristics. We hope audiences will enjoy the variety of performances and the eminent cast that this year’s Bamboo Theatre has to offer and experience a taste of our artistic vision for the future Xiqu Centre.

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