Guo Qihong

b. 1940, Chaozhou, Guangdong
Xiqu and Huaju playwright
Guo Qihong graduated in 1961 from Zhongshan University as a student of Wang Jisi, a renowned scholar of classical Chinese plays. After graduation, he was assigned to Beijing and worked as playwright in the China Pingju Troupe (Zhongguo ping ju yuan), Beijing Jingju Troupe (Beijing jingju yuan), Northern Kunqu Troupe (Beifang kunqu yuan) and Beijing People’s Art Theatre (Beijing renmin yishu juyuan) at different times. As a result, he has written about fifty plays in the forms of Pingju (Tangshan opera), Kunqu Xiqu, Jingju (Peking opera), Huaju (spoken drama) and television series. His best works are his ‘newly written historical plays’ (xinbian lishi xi) (see Xiqu). Reminiscence of the Southern Tang (Nantang yishi) staged by Northern Kunqu Troupe in 1987 is about Li Yu, the famous emperor poet. Sima Xiangru produced by Shanghai Kunqu Troupe in 1995 retells the well-known love story between Sima Xiangru and Zhuo Wenjun. The spoken dramas Li Bai (1991) and The Proud Son of Heaven (Tian zhi jiaozi, 1995) for Beijing People’s Art Theatre focus on the Tang poet Li Bai and the Wei-Jin poet Cao Zhi, respectively.
These four plays have earned the playwright, along with his troupes and leading actors, a significant number of awards at both national and municipal levels. Like most contemporary playwrights, Guo looks at well-known historical figures from new perspectives. At the same time his work remains faithful to the traditional cultural aura attending each personage. He has also joined some of the other playwrights in a new trend of adapting Western classics into Xiqu (sung-drama/opera). He wrote Thebes (Tebai cheng) for a large production by the Beijing Heibei Bangzi Troupe in 2002. Based on Aeschylus’ Seven against Thebes and Sophocles’ Antigone, the play sets the story in the Spring and Autumn period and combines Chinese poetry, costume and acting style with the concepts of Greek tragedy. Guo’s plays have been praised by most critics for their literary quality in lyrics and content. His drama is not only for performance, but also for reading.
DU WENWEI

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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