More than 300 forms of Chinese traditional theatre are still practised today. This mixed excerpt performance offers Hong Kong audiences a rare opportunity to experience some of the less familiar regional variations. Emerging star Du Huan partners with Long Hong to present an excerpt from a Gannan tea-picking opera from Jiangxi. Sonya Shaw, whose elegance has charmed audiences at home and abroad, performs a traditional Yueju piece from Zhejiang. Zeng Zhaojiang presents an excerpt of Pingju, a form that originated in Hebei and combines influences from Peking opera, shadow puppetry and other regional theatrical and musical styles. Li Jianshu offers a lively, rhythmic Yuju excerpt from Henan, and Fang Lüjiang, the first performer of Ouju to receive a Plum Blossom Award, presents a piece showcasing the archaic and multi-layered operatic form from southern Zhejiang.
Gannan tea-picking opera: Tang Er Tests His Wife
This comic play tells the story of businessman Tang Er and his pretty wife Yu Lan. Travelling regularly for business, Tang begins to worry that his wife is unfaithful to him while he is away. Letting his suspicions get the better of him, he hatches a ruse to test her. One day, pretending to set out on a business trip, Tang turns back half way and returns home disguised as a nobleman named Cao. Unmoved by Cao’s attempted seduction, Yu Lan sets her own trap and gives the man a good beating for his trouble. Realising that his wife is truly faithful, Tang’s doubts disappear and his love for his wife blossoms anew!
Yueju: “Fortune-telling” from He Wenxiu
In this story set during the reign of the Ming emperor Jiajing, the scholar He Wenxiu and his wife Wang Lanying are travelling to Hangzhou for business. En route they run into the local tyrant Zhang Tang who immediately decides to take He Wenxue’s pretty wife for himself. Hatching a plan to frame the scholar, Zhang has him sent to prison so that he can claim Wang Lanying. By two different strokes of luck, the couple manage to escape Zhang’s clutches – He Wenxiu persuading the prison guards to set him free and his wife going into hiding in the home of a married woman. Three years later, He Wenxiu has changed his name to Wang Cha and been appointed provincial governor. Through careful detective work he has also discovered his wife’s hiding place and is quietly gathering evidence to convict Zhang. One day, disguising himself as a fortune teller, He Wenxiu seeks out his wife to console her and convince her to submit a formal complaint against Zhang. But will He Wenxiu succeed in his plan to rid the community of the corrupt and dangerous tyrant?
Cast: Sonya Shaw (Winner of the Plum Blossom Award for Chinese Theatre)
Pingju: “Reunited at the Rice Distribution” from Zhao Jintang
Tang dynasty general Zhu Chundeng’s harmonious marriage with Zhao Jintang is the envy of his younger brother Zhu Songcheng, who secretly covets the beautiful Zhao. When a rebellion breaks out in the Western Liang state, Zhu Chundeng receives orders to join the emperor’s troops. Before his reluctant departure, the general asks his wife to take care of his mother while he is away. Seeing a chance to have Zhao for himself, sly Songcheng offers to accompany his brother to the front line but on the way pushes him over a cliff. Returning home and claiming that Chundeng has been killed in action, Songcheng attempts to take Zhao as his wife. When Zhao refuses, Songcheng flies into a rage and throws her and his mother out of the house forcing them to beg for a living.
Twelve years later, Zhu Chundeng, who survived and prospered during the war, returns home. Heartbroken to hear that both she and his mother are dead, he visits his ancestral grave and sets up a rice distribution tent in their honour. As he weeps inconsolably at his loss, two poor women enter the tent to beg for food. Noticing a red scar on the younger woman’s hand, Zhu realises that it is his wife and mother in front of him!
Cast: Zeng Zhaojuan (Two-time winner of the Plum Blossom Award for Chinese Theatre)
Ouju: “The Broken Bridge” from The Legend of the White Snake
In this legendary folk tale, Lady White Snake, a snake with supernatural powers, is living in human form as Bai Suzhen and married to the scholar Xu Xian. When the monk Fa Hai detains Xu Xian to warn him of the danger he is in, White Snake and her friend Xiao Qing arrive to free him and a battle ensues. Bai Suzhen and Xiao Qing are overpowered and forced to retreat.
After the two women leave, Fa Hai agrees to let Xu Xian return home, convinced that he has seen the error of his judgement. On his way, Xu Xian encounters Bai Suzhen and Xiao Qing by the Broken Bridge at the West Lake. Xiao Qing, also a snake in human form, is indignant and angry for her friend. Rebuking Xu Xian for his disloyalty she threatens to kill him. But Bai is still in love with her husband and stands in her way. As Xu Xian begs for forgiveness, a fierce struggle between the three begins …
Cast: Fang Rujiang (Winner of the Plum Blossom Award for Chinese Theatre)
Yuju: “The Lost Son” from The Breezy Pavilion
One day, passing by the Breezy Pavilion, the humble tofu seller Zhang Yuanxiu and his wife find an abandoned baby boy. Childless and no longer young, the couple decide to take the boy and raise him as their own. Naming him Jibao, they look after him as best they can, despite their own hardships. When Jibao is 13 years old, he finally learns the story of how he was found. Filled with sadness and anger he runs away from the couple and heads to the Breezy Pavilion. But old Zhang Yuanxiu follows him. By chance, when they arrive at the pavilion, they encounter Jibao’s real mother, Zhou Guiying, still grieving her lost son. Learning that Jibao is the child she had been forced to abandon, Zhou Guiyang begs Zhang to let the boy return to her. Poor Zhang is devastated. But seeing Zhou’s pain at the thought of losing her son for a second time, and having the child’s best interests at heart, he agrees to return the boy to his mother.
Cast: Li Shujian (Two-time Winner of the Plum Blossom Award for Chinese Theatre)
16 March 2019 (Saturday)
Grand Theatre, Xiqu Centre
Regional languages with Chinese and English surtitles
(852) 2200 0022, firstname.lastname@example.org
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