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There's more to being a clown than clowning around

Xu Wei
The fourth season of the "Crown the Clown" series will open next month, in an effort to preserve and revive classic Peking Opera performances and cultivate young chou performers.
Xu Wei

The fourth season of the “Crown the Clown” series will raise its curtain at the Zhou Xinfang Drama Theater next month.

The chou, comedic clown roles from the Peking Opera in the form of humorous and villainous characters, will take center stage.

The series is an effort by the Shanghai Peking Opera Company to preserve and revive classic Peking Opera performances and cultivate young chou performers.

Over the years, many Peking Opera classics featuring chou as the leading character have been rescued from extinction. New plays have also been created based on other traditional Chinese opera forms. 

A new breed of young, talented chou performers — including Hao Jie, Wang Dun and Zhu Heji — have made a name for themselves in the recent “Crown the Clown” season.

To increase public awareness of the art of chou, the Shanghai Peking Opera Company has hosted dozens of salon events and lectures around the city.

The fourth season of “Crown the Clown” will feature the classic comedy “Three Attempts at the Nine Dragon Cup,” and a series of chou excerpts from the Peking Opera.

Yan, celebrated Peking Opera star and producer of the series, hopes the series will foster more enthusiasm for traditional comedies.

Chou is not a minor role, and the performers must be able to sing and act as well as perform martial arts and acrobatics,” Yan said. “We have also made some changes to jokes from the original plays to cater to today’s audiences.”

“Three Attempts at the Nine Dragon Cup” hasn’t been performed in public for more than 20 years. The original play’s script and songs have been upgraded, and it features more complex martial arts scenes.

The production combines stunts from other Chinese opera forms with traditional Peking Opera style. 

Yan will demonstrate his range of talents in Kunqu, Yueju, Huju and Huaiju operas. 

Performance info

“Three Attempts at the Nine Dragon Cup”
Dates: November 21-22, 1:30pm

Chou excerpts from the Peking Opera
Date: November 28, 1:30pm

Tel: 6322-5294
Venue: Zhou Xinfang Drama Theater
Address: 1198 Tianyaoqiao Road

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