Shijiazhuang Hebei Bangzi Opera Troupe: Zhong Kui the Ghost-eater

Xiqu Centre Grand Theatre


National treasure Pei Yanling serves as artistic director in a new production of a classic opera starring her protégé


Three-time Plum Blossom Award-winner Pei Yanling is the most esteemed Hebei Bangzi performer living today, best known for her star-making turn in Zhong Kui the Ghost-eater. The Shijiazhuang Hebei Bangzi Opera Troupe has produced a new adaption of this iconic Hebei Bangzi opera, with Pei herself as the artistic director and her protégé Li Shufen taking on the lead role of Zhong Kui.


Premiering in the 1980s, Zhong Kui the Ghost-eater offers a crowd-pleasing combination of civic drama and action sequences. As Pei’s most celebrated work and one of the troupe’s signature operas, it has enjoyed enduring popularity throughout the years. The new production, directed by National Class One Director Duan Shiwei, features a string of fresh elements that aims to preserve this classic by elevating its appeal to the modern audience.


The story follows the talented young scholar Zhong Kui as he travels to Beijing to take part in the imperial examination, hoping for a career in civil service. However, he receives abhorrent treatment by those who look down on his humble background, and commits suicide out of despair. Upon hearing about Zhong’s uncompromising character and the injustice he suffered, the Celestial God appoints him the vanquisher of ghosts and evil spirits. To thank his best friend Du, who risked his own life to bury Zhong’s body, the newly-selected Ghost-eater betroths his sister to Du. After personally leading a team of ghoul soldiers to escort his sister to Du’s home, Zhong heads to the Zhongnan Mountain to assume his post.


Li Shufen, Liu Lisha, Wei Xueli, Guo Zhangyong


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