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The Revival of Kunqu Opera: PKU Kunqu Inheritance Plan heads to the second round

Peking University, Mar. 17, 2014: In February, 2014, Appreciation of Kunqu Classics started its lesson as scheduled, which marked the beginning of the second five-year march (2014-2018) for PKU Inheritance Plan of Kunqu Opera. The establishment of Kunqu Opera Inheritance and Study Center in PKU also indicated that the cultural legacy of Kunqu would keep shining on our campus.

Since 2009 when the first five-year project of Kunqu Inheritance Plan launched, there have been four sessions of Kunqu appreciation course successfully opened in PKU. And with an additional Kunqu Performance Workshop setting up as a showcase, more students are able to feel its artistic chrisma closely.

Based on the achievement of the first five-year plan, the new program will concentrate on perfecting the lessons of Kunqu appreciation, promoting Kunqu Workshop on campus, and cultivating new talents among opera-major students and young Kunqu performers.  

Meanwhile, Digital Kunqu website was built up under the cooperation of Digital Kunqu and PKU library to accelerate the transmission of Kunqu art.

During the class of Kunqu Classics Appreciation on March 6th, Bai Xianyong, a famous Chinese writer and the chief producer of Peony Pavilion (youth version) and Jade Hairpin (new version), came to Beida and gave students a lecture.

Citing the two plays, Bai expressed that the new Kunqu aesthetics based on the combination of tradition and modernity. For the upcoming ten-year anniversary of the youth version of Peony Pavilion, he shared the creating experience with the audience and invited the leading actor and actress to demonstrate the play in the class.  


Mr. Bai Xianyong

This year PKU’s Inheritance Program of Kunqu Opera will also invite the distinguished Kunqu artists Hua Wenyi, Cai Zhengren and Xue Meiti to illustrate the performing art of Kunqu Opera.

Contemporary to the visit of Mr Bai, performers from Suzhou Kunqu Theater played excerpts of Kunqu classics in PKU and Peking Normal University, which evoked wild enthusiasm among college students. Beside five excerpts of the classical Peony Pavilion, some resuscitated excerpts were also performed this year, including Jing Yu from White Voile Garment — which was rarely seen on stage.

It is a significant mission for young performers of Suzhou Kunqu Theater to revive the excerpts. Every year, they travel all over China visiting prestigious Kunqu artists in order to restore the deteriorating situation of Kunqu opera.

At PKU, the course of Kunqu appreciation invites famous artists in this field to hold lectures and gives free tickets of excerpt performances to the registered students. The tickets for sale are priced from 10 to 30 yuan to make them affordable for students.

In the launch ceremony of the new five-year plan in 2013, Bai Xianyong said, “As a part of our Chinese nation, the youngsters possess a sense of ‘collective consciousness’, and instead of rejecting your traditional culture, you will acknowledge and pursue it. You college students are the main force of future culture construction in China. I sincerely hope that everyone can watch Kunqu performances at least once to feel its beauty. And I believe the seed will finally sprout if you sow it.”

Ye Lang, professor of philosophy and social Sciences, dean of PKU Institute for Cultural Industries commented, “Chinese culture emphasize on spiritual pursuit, and Chinese art is the most spiritualized art in the world. In modern times, especially an extremely materialized one like the present, we should revert to the traditional culture and lead a balanced life.”

PKU’s Inheritance Program of Kunqu still has a long way to go. Ms Gu Huaizhen, the supporter of the new five-year plan and president of American FCCH Foundation, said, “We hope that the program will flourish widely. PKU lighting the torch of cultural inheritance at this critical moment will provide a good platform for more congenial people to join in and make contributions.”

Written by: Wang Yawen

Edited by: Li Wenrui

Source: pkunews.pku.edu.cn/xxfz/2014-03/12/content_281650.htm