Pingju Opera
2004-7-16 9:05:46    
Pingju opera was formed in the first year of Emperor Xuantong Qing Dynasty (1909) in Tangshan. So it was also named Tangshan Laozi.
In the 12th year of the Republic of China (1923), Jingshi Theatrical Troupe, which founded this type of drama, performed in Tianjin. Because the dramas they performed contained new meanings of punishing evil-doers and praising good-doers, warning and converting people, discussing the past and now, Lu Haihuan advised changing the name into Pingju opera. In the 25th year of the Republic of China, the famous actress Bai Yushuang filmed the movie Haitang Red. The press recorded the name of Pingju opera in the Public Paper. From then on, the name of Pingju opera was widely spreaded in the country.
Pingju opera originates from folk song and dance-Yangge, which is one of the main forms of folk flower fair actions in the first month of the lunar year. In this activity, two people are dressed up, singing and dancing in antiphonal style, others act as singing and dancing partners. The gong and drum are beaten in rhythm; suona or other traditional stringed and woodwind instruments are dubbed in background music.
Its main content includes folk living stories, historical figures, and scenes of the four seasons. In Qing and Ming dynasties, many people took singing Yangge as profession, the tunes they sung took Lianhualao as the principle thing. By the end of Qing Dynasty, Yangge absorbed shadow show, versified story sung to accompaniment of a drum, both of which belonged to Laoting. Thus Yangge was changed into Bengbeng Opera, the old name of Pingju opera, which is rich in local features of east of Hebei Province.
In the early days of Bengbeng Opera, it was Xiaodan and Xiaochou Opera (Xiaodan, the role of a young woman in traditional opera; Xiaochou, the buffoon). They festively singing and dancing or speaking. The plays they performed reached more than hundred kinds, and there were certain plots and characters run from beginning to end. The narrative form and the third person were its main features. Besides, its music was transitive pattern of Ban Accent, form (accented beats in traditional Chinese music). Because the artists sung took Lianhualao as the main, and using bamboo clappers beat time, the Bengbeng Opera was mixed named with Lianhualao. The performance form started with merry songs, which sung by group, and then drew out the main content of the play.
After 1840, people who made living on practicing Bengbeng Opera increased day by day, numbers of artists who sung Bengbeng Opera appeared. Because of the differences of the artists' dialects and regions, the eastern, western and northern Bengbeng Opera was formed.
During the period of 1880-1990, many semi-occupational and occupational theatrical troupes appeared. The outstanding artists exchanged their experiences in the competitions, and absorbed mutually, thus pushed the Bengbeng Opera developed forward constantly, the Xiaodan and Xiaochou Opera was developed into three Xiao opera.
The players of this kind of opera changed the third person to the first person, and dramas were changed from singing and speaking to speaking on behalf of another form, small-sized plays appeared, which were divided into scenes. The performance began to have division of type of role. Besides the preservation of traditional Yangge dance, some plays began to absorb authentic activities, which imitated the real life. At the same time, began to follow the stylized movements of large drama. But it wasn't fettered by the serious stylized movements. Its movements were free, and its spoken parts took local language of Tangshan as the basis, its music voices have begun to take form of Ban accent. Its accompaniment took Banhu (a bowed stringed instrument with a thin wooden soundboard) as main, also used suona, bamboo flute. Beat time instruments used jujube-wood clappers instead of bamboo clappers and borrowed the gong scripture from Hebei Bangzi opera. When began to play, it took the Banhu player's stamp as order to conduct the band's accompaniment. The stage installations only included one table and two chairs and "Shoujiu".
The lists of Three Xiao opera were over hundred, most of them originated from the Xiaodan and Xiaochou opera or dramas of Bangzi, and the rest were compiled according to folk real life current events and hearsays ancient and modern legends historical novels and film. During the period of Three Xiao opera, in the 34th year of Emperor Guangxu in Qing Dynasty, because of the successive death of Guangxu and Cixi, Qing Dynasty government ordered that recreational activities were barred in hundred days, which caused the theatrical troupes of Bengbeng Opera landed in predicament, many of them were disintegrated.
In fall of the same year, some artists established Qingchun Society. In order to prevent the government's ban on performance, they overall reformed the Three Xiao opera. They absorbed Bangzi mode and gong and drum, thus Bengbeng opera possessed the embryonic form of large drama. Bengbeng opera was named smooth tune Bangzi opera. In the first year of Emperor Xuantong, Yongsheng Tea Garden was set up in Tangshan. Qingchun Society was invited to perform for Yongsheng Tea Garden's open. The performance of Qingchun Society was greatly welcomed by numerous workers and audience. Thereupon, Qingchun Society got a firm foothold in Tangshan.
In order to firm Bengbeng opera's position in urban, the artists were on rush to write and rehearse new plays. By the first year of the Republic of China, the large dramas they produced, rearranged, grafted have reached more than 30 pieces, at the same time, the performance was perfected, the music for voices and accompaniments were improved. From then on, Bengbeng opera possessed new artistes style and features. By that time, the folk opera, which was pregnant in the mother's body of Yangge, talent showed itself in early of the Republic of China at long last. People at that time called it Tangshan Laozi, and named Pingju opera later.
Some Pingju plays, such as Yang Yu'e Sue Gao Zhanying for Murder, An Zhonggen Assassinated Yitengbowen, etc., these modern dramas faced the social real life, took the current news as subject matters. They made great influence at that time. On 1st, October 1949, the People's Republic of China was established. Under the guide of the policy of letting a hundred flowers blossom, weeding through the old to bring forth the new, Pingju opera showed a flourishing appearance, and many Pingju art troupes were set up in provinces, cities and autonomous regions. Then, Pingju opera leaped to the national largest drama.
Yang Yu'e Sue Gao Zhanying For Murder, which also named Kill Gao Zhangying by Shooting, was written according to real person and real fair. In the 7th year of the Republic of China, Gao Zhanying, a son of a rich family, married a poor girl, older sister of Yang Yu'e. Gao was an incorrigible rogue, he gad affairs with his two sisters-in-law. His wife persuaded him to give up evil and return to good, but Gao harbored thoughts of hatred to his wife because of that. So the adulterer and the adulteress plotted together and killed Gao's wife. Yang Yu'e found something questionable when she went to her sister's funeral, so she went to Luanxian County to Sue Gao. But the head of county accept bribes, which caused Yang Yu'e came to failure. Yang Yu'e refused to obey the result, she went to general hall of Zhili (Tianjin) to sue Go again. She won the lawsuit at last, and Gao was shot.
This play was first performed in Qingfeng theatre, Haerbin, and its drama was first recorded in Grand Sight of Pingju Opera; the Selected Works of Cheng Zhaocai's Dramas, which was published by Dramatic Publishing House of China in Dec., 1957, collected the play, too.
Flower Act as Go-between, described a love story of Wang Zunqing and his cousin, Li Yue'e. Because Li's father didn't permit the marriage, Wang hot lovesickness. The go-between, Ruan ma, introduced another girl, Zhang Wuke to Wang, and planned them to meet in garden. They fell in love at first sight. On the day of wedding, Li's mother secretly sent Li to Wang's home, so Wang had two wives. This play was performed in the third year of the Republic of China (1914) by Qingchun Group, and collected in the second part of the Grand Sight of Pingju Opera.
(http://www.china-window.com.cn/Hebei_w/msys/english/tcys/pingju.html)
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