Peking opera, also known as Beijing opera, jingju, Guoju (national opera), Jingxi and Pingju, is one of the most sophisticated traditional operatic genre in Chinese culture. Internationally, it is also associated with some general names, such as Chinese theater, Chinese opera, Chinese drama, and the Capital opera. Once the most widespread performing genre in the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth century China, it is considered the representative of all traditional Chinese operatic forms. Its sophisticated, and highly stylized and conventionalized performance system (e.g. role types, voice and speech, movement, costumes, props, and music) is greatly beloved and appreciated locally and internationally. Also, it has been artistically, socially, and politically (in specific historical context) influential to many regional operatic genres as well as modern theatrical forms (e.g. Chinese martial Art film) in East Asia. Its rich, and somehow dramatic, history (its legendary origin and development associated with the Qing court, its flourishing and declining through the most chaotic period in Chinese modern history, and the distinct contemporary development in China and Taiwan after Chinese civil war), makes Peking opera a vital subject for scholarly exploration. To read Peking opera history is just like reading the entire modern Chinese history.
The Peking opera workshop provides an overview of this highly-developed artistic form. It can serve audience in various sizes, from large lecture (50+) to small class (5). It can be arranged from 45 minutes to 3 hours. Topics covered will include, but is not limited to, background (history, socio-cultural significance, and political situation, etc.), essence and fundamental concepts of its performance, and musical components. The balance of each topic area, however, can be adjusted according to the time, workshop size, the type of audience body, and any special request. The workshop combines lecture, multimedia presentation, performance demonstration, and hands-on practice. Participants will be invited to sing, to dance, to act, and to fight (as performance, of course, after learning the combat convention) during the workshop. This workshop not only offers great opportunity to gain basic ideas of Peking opera as a theatrical form, but can also serve as a starting point for further exploration of Chinese culture as a whole.
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