shadow puppet theatre, troupes and traditions

Eight distinct shadow traditions of varying styles can be discerned today. Playscripts are used in Wanwanqiang Shadows and Laoqiang Shadows of Shaanxi; the Luanzhou Shadows of Beijing, Hebei and northeastern China; the Chengdu Shadows of Sichuan: and the Parchment Monkey Shadows of Taiwan. The eight traditions with their local variations are as follows.
1 The Qin and Jin shadow tradition: Agonqiang Shadows (Shaanxi), Wanwanqiang Shadows (Shaanxi), four styles of Daoist Shadows (Shaanxi); Laoqiang Shadows (Shaanxi), Xianbanqiang Shadows (Shaanxi), Ankang yuediao Shadows (Shaan-xi); Lingbao Shadows (Henan), Eastern Henan Shadows (Henan), Xinyang Shadows (Henan); Piqiang Shadows (Shanxi), Wanwanqiang Shadows (Shanxi); Eastern Gansu Shadows (Gansu), Southern Gansu Shadows (Gansu); Qinghai Shadows (Sichuan), Northern Sichuan Shadows or Weinan Shadows (Sichuan).
2 The Luanzhou shadow tradition: Gargantuan Shadows (Hebei), Luanzhou Shadows [Beijing Eastside Shadows (Hebei), Leting Shadows (Hebei) or Eastern Hebei Shadows (Hebei), Beijing Westside Shadows (Hebei), Zhozhou Shadows (Hebei), Prayer Mat Shadows (Hebei), Flowing-from-the-mouth/Memory Shadows (Hebei), Beijing Shadows (Hebei), Southern Hebei Cattle Parchment Shadows (Hebei); Luanzhou Shadows (or Northeastern Shadows) (Lianing, Jilin, Heilongjiang).
3 The Shandong shadow tradition: Shandong Shadows.
4 The Hangzhou shadow tradition: Zhejiang Shadows, Shanghai Shadows.
5 The shadow traditions of Sichuan, Hubei and Yunnan: Hubei Shadows (Hubei), Tongbo Shadows (Henan), Luoshan Shadows (Henan), Chengdu Shadows (Sichuan), Tengchong Shadows (Yunnan).
6 The Hunan and Jiangxi shadow tradition: Hunan Shadows.
7 The Chaozhou shadow tradition: Parchment Monkey Shadows (Taiwan), Parchment Monkey Shadows or Paper Screen Shadows (Guangdong).
8 The modern tradition: children’s stories, revolutionary tales, rewritten traditional plays.
Members of rural troupes are all farmers who perform to supplement their income. They generally follow inherited traditional styles. While the owner of a trunk of shadow figures (usually the master puppeteer) is considered to be the head/ director of a troupe, his assistant and the musicians of the orchestra may change depending on availability. When a show is booked, the director will contact other performers and form a troupe. Many village musicians perform for several different troupes, including human actors’ opera troupes. The film To Live (Huozhe), directed by Zhang Yimou, features the Wanwanqiang Shadows of Shaanxi. The most renowned troupes are located in Huaxian, Shaanxi.
Starting from the 1950s, government-sponsored puppet troupes in cities such as Changsha (Hunan) Beijing, Shanghai, Tangshan (Hebei), Xi’an (Shaanxi), Chengdu (Sichuan), Lufeng (Guangdong) and Harbin (Heilongjiang) began to perform animal fable stories as well as plays with revolutionary content and a few rewritten plays from traditional repertoires. These modern-style troupes were revived after the Cultural Revolution. But as government funds for the performing arts dwindled in the 1980s, some, such as the one in Shanghai, ceased to exist; while others, such as the one in Lufeng, only perform when they are hired to put on shows abroad. The Tangshan Shadow Play Theatre is the most successful troupe of this kind. It draws most of its income from commissions abroad and performing at village festivals.
The following troupes, listed by province or municipality, are still active. Private troupes are usually identified locally by the name of the master puppeteer/director, who owns the trunks:
Shaanxi: Sun Jingfa at Lintong; Wei Zhengye (Guanghuashe), Pan Jingle (Guangyishe), Yang Xinlu (Guangqingshe), Dong Jinrui (Guangmingshe) and Jiang Zhanhe (Zhenhuashe) at Huaxian; Chen Zenli, Zhang Ximin (Jindian piyingshe), Wei Xingbao (Gexinshe) and Zhang Bimin, Wang Zhenzhong (Baimao piyingshe) at Huayinxian; Cheng Youcai and Wang Tiande (Tiandeshe) at Liquanxian; Wang Yunfei at Qishanxian; Provincial Folk Art Theatre and Li Shijie (Deqingshe) at Xi’an; He Bao’an at Yangxian; Ma Tianhu at Fengxiangxian; Meng Mingshe at Xingpingxian; Duan Manwong (Shadi piyingshe) and Wang Jinfa (Xizhai piyingshe) at Dalixian; Huan Ziwa (Minleshe) at Fupingxian; Li Youcai (Qizhenban) at Fufengxian.
Shanxi: Wu Haitang at Biducun, Xiaoyi; Xiaoyi Shadow Theatre Troupe at Xiaoyi.
Hebei: Tangshan Shadow Play Theatre at Tangshan; Luannan Shadow Play Theatre at Luannan; Lu Fuzeng at Ershengmiaocun, Fengrunxian.
Heilongjiang: Han Feizi and Gao Jinhua at Shuangchengshi; Ha’erbin Ertong yishu juyuan piying jutuan at Harbin.
Shangdong: Li Xingtang at Jinan.
Henan: Suo Xinyou at Xichecun, Yinzhuangzhen, Lingbao.
Gansu: Zhu Tingyu, Wujiamencun, Sanchaxiang, Zhangxian.
Sichuan: Xiong Weisheng at Santaixian (recently deceased); Wang Wenkun at Liquancun, Baotaixiang, Langzhong (recently deceased); He Zhengtong at Mawangxiang, Nanbu; Shen Xiao in Chengdu.
Shanghai: Tang Baoliang at Qixianzhen, Fengxian-xiang.
Zhejiang: Jijiaban at Haining.
Guangdong. Lufeng Shadow Theatre Troupe at Lufengshi; Zhuo You’er at Huanlincun, Nantangzhen, Lufeng (recently deceased).
Yunnan: Liu Yongzhou at Tengchong.
Taiwan: The troupes Donghua, Hexing, Fude, Yongxingle and Fuxingge at Gaoxiongxian.
FAN PEN CHEN

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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