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China Daily

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Thursday, December 21, 2017, 11:58
Chinese opera troupes aim to use web to boost traditional art form
By Chen Nan
Thursday, December 21, 2017, 11:58 By Chen Nan

The launching ceremony of the China Association of Performing Arts Committee of Chinese Opera in Beijing. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

The China Association of Performing Arts Committee has launched a branch that will be dedicated to traditional Chinese opera.

Despite government efforts, such old art forms can't be popularized unless the opera troupes explore new ways to add a contemporary touch

Zhu Kening, President, China Association of Performing Arts

About 30 troupes from around the country, including the National Peking Opera Company, the Northern Kunqu Opera Theater and Xi'an Qinqiang Opera Company, recently gathered in Beijing to mark the setting up of the China Association of Performing Arts Committee of Chinese Opera with the aim of reviving public interest in the old art form.

According to Zhu Kening, president of the China Association of Performing Arts, the new body will focus on promoting traditional Chinese opera in new ways-making the art form accessible to audiences through the internet, offering such platforms as conferences and forums for the troupes to communicate and providing better theater management.

There are about 400 types of traditional Chinese opera. Most of them have been listed as national intangible cultural heritage.

"Despite government efforts, such old art forms can't be popularized unless the opera troupes explore new ways to add a contemporary touch," says Zhu. "Technology,-for example, livestreaming-can help in this regard."

Before contemporary entertainment like cinema, television and computer games became popular in the country, Chinese audiences went to theaters to watch traditional opera shows. The culture of each region, such as dialect, gave birth to a variety of traditional operas.

"The new committee will bring artists of different Chinese operas together annually to share ideas about getting into the cultural mainstream," says Zhu.

One of the new committee's initiators is Lyu Guliang, a media guru who launched his company, We Play (Beijing) Cultural Industry Investment and Management Ltd, two years ago. His company has taken Chinese opera artists to perform abroad.

Chinese opera troupes reach out to global audiences with the help of We Play (Beijing) Cultural Industry Investment and Management Ltd. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

"Traditional Chinese opera is a vibrant and centuries-old tradition that showcases the essence of Chinese culture. But it is losing in the market because the way entertainment is consumed has changed. We are trying to change that idea," says Lyu.

Lyu's company has produced promotional videos, starring pop stars and Chinese opera artists. The first video, which went online on Wednesday, features pop icon Lu Han and Peking Opera actress Yuan Huiqin.

Lyu says a series of live performances will be held and traditional opera films shown in Beijing throughout next year.

"If you look at the past 10 years in the development of traditional opera troupes, we have experienced a good time," says Li Jianshu, director of Yuju Opera Company of Henan province.

There are 164 government-supported Yuju Opera troupes and 1,437 private troupes in Henan, he says.

About two years ago, Li initiated the idea of gathering those troupes together annually to share new productions and ideas about developing Yuju Opera.

He says the internet is the main force for interacting and connecting with audiences. The fourth Yuju Opera Festival, which was held at Henan Poly Art Center in August, attracted more than 500 million viewers online.

Promoting Chinese culture and boosting confidence in it were outlined by President Xi Jinping in his report to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in October.

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