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A bigger stage for aesthetic education

By Xing Wen | China Daily | Updated: 2020-11-18 08:50
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Last month, the general offices of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council issued guidelines to strengthen aesthetic education in schools, encouraging them to integrate it into the cultivation of students at each grade.

"Theatrical performance, among all the art genres, is relatively approachable for students and more likely to nurture them in the spirit of humanity with the dramas' illuminating, instructive storylines," says Zhu Kening, president of the China Association of Performing Arts.

After the association members explored China's performing arts education landscape, they found that primary and middle schools in China lack commonly-used, well-organized textbooks, and a dearth of experienced performing arts teachers to not only train students in the skill of performance, but also help to lift their levels of aesthetic knowledge.

Two years ago, the association decided to gather educational experts, scholars and performing artists to compile a set of drama and performance textbooks for teenagers, along with a set of teaching materials for performing arts teachers, both of which were released on Nov 12.

The textbooks, designed for students from the age of 3 to 18, provide 56 scripts, detailed references for stage setting and costumes, as well as the ideas of blocking - the physical arrangement of actors onstage - which makes it possible for amateurs to rehearse and present a stage play.

Most of the scripts are adapted from the excerpts in students' Chinese textbooks, which help to deepen their understanding of these stories and improve their self-expression skills, says Li Guangyu, chief editor of the textbooks.

The teaching materials also include 2,000 questions and answers that help teachers to systematically learn about the current methods and theories with regard to theatrical education in China, Li says.

Lan Tianye, 93, a veteran stage actor from the Beijing People's Art Theater, says that he believes these standardized textbooks and teaching materials would not only cultivate actors, directors and other practitioners in the theatrical arts, but also help to expand the audience of people keen on watching stage plays.

Currently, the provincial theater of Shandong province, the Orange Theaters in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, and the Sichuan University of Media and Communications, among other institutions, have forged a strategic partnership with the association and will soon begin using the textbooks and teaching materials.

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