Transforming tradition

By Zhu Xingxin and Wu Yuchen | China Daily | Updated: 2023-06-05 10:36
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Yang Jun puts on her makeup backstage at the Shouyi Theater in Wuhan, Hubei province, on April 16, before performing in the premiere of her new Huangmei Opera production, Rippling Pleats. ZHU XINGXIN/CHINA DAILY

Yang Jun's new production lends an old story modern sensibilities

After four years of hard work, Yang Jun, an inheritor of Huangmei Opera and deputy to the National People's Congress for three terms, unveiled her new production, Rippling Pleats, to audiences in Wuhan, Hubei province.

Rippling Pleats tells the story of a corrupt Tang Dynasty (618-906) official, Yuan Zai, and his wife. "Although it is a traditional costume opera, it has contemporary, modern and literary qualities that differ from the classical Huangmei Opera," Yang said.

With more than 40 years of stage experience, Yang started studying Huangmei Opera, which is recognized as a national intangible cultural heritage, when she was 12. Her dedicated performance and production of the popular art form have won her a number of awards, including the Plum Blossom Award, the highest Chinese award for performing arts.

"Huangmei Opera originated in folk tea-picking tunes," she said. "The tunes are easy for ordinary people to understand and hum."

As a result of national efforts to promote traditional culture in schools, Yang said that more young people are becoming interested in traditional forms of opera, including Huangmei Opera.

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