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Chinese Opera Festival to present Monkey King plays (with photos)

     In celebration of the Year of the Monkey, the Chinese Opera Festival will present the "Monkey King Play Series" to display both the northern and southern styles of Chinese opera.

     Characterised by unique stunts and agile movements, Monkey King plays mimic the mythical Sun Wukong to entertain audiences. Monkey King plays can be categorised by region and defined as southern and northern styles. Shao opera of Zhejiang is most widely known in the southern style of Monkey King plays, while the northern style is represented by Peking opera. The Leisure and Cultural Services Department has invited the Shao Opera Art Research Institute of Zhejiang (representing the southern style) and Li Baochun, renowned Peking opera artist and the son of the legendary northern school Monkey King performer Li Shaochun, to perform in collaboration with the Youth Troupe of the Peking Opera Theatre of Beijing (representing the northern style).

     Stylistically, the performance of Shao opera is gallant and straightforward. The Shao opera "Monkey King Thrice Beats the Bony Ghost" was made into a film in 1960. Since then, Shao opera Monkey King plays have become popular across the country. The Shao Opera Art Research Institute of Zhejiang made its Hong Kong debut in 2008 and its performances were enthusiastically applauded by the Hong Kong audience. Returning with critical acclaim, the institute will stage the best of its Monkey King plays with martial arts to astonish theatre-goers. The dynamic cast comprises Liu Jianyang, famed as "The Monkey King of Jiangnan" and the proud apprentice of a Shao opera Monkey King master; Yao Baiqing, an exponent of the Shao opera Wang Xiaokui stylistic school who is also known as the "reborn Bajie of Jiangnan"; and fine actors of the institute.

     Shao opera is also well known for ritual performances of Mulian opera at temple fairs. Revived titles selected in the programme of excerpt performances entitled "Naihe Bridge" and "Bai Yuan Saving His Mother" will highlight the ritual character of the regional opera form. "Praising Qin Qiong's Contributions" is an excerpt that emphasises both the singing and the movements, "Nine-twist Bridge" has a tight-knit plot, and "The Fisherman Meeting the Woodcutter", on the other hand, is a classic duet play performed by "laosheng" (old male) and "zhengsheng" (male lead) actors. The repertoire will vividly demonstrate the artistic qualities of this major local opera genre of Zhejiang.

     The Monkey King plays in Peking opera are further categorised into southern and northern schools. The art of Yang Yuelou and his son Yang Xiaolou was an example of the northern school of Monkey King plays of Peking opera. Subsequently, Li Shaochun, master of "wusheng" (military male role) acting, combined the strengths of the northern and southern schools and built his own interpretation based on the Yang style. His portrayal of the Monkey King is not only characterised by the nimble and dexterous traits of a monkey, but also reveals the demeanour of the Monkey King. One could describe his performance as a perfect amalgamation of monkey, human and deity. The Festival has specially invited Li Baochun, the son of Li Shaochun and a renowned Peking opera artist from Taiwan, to collaborate with the Youth Troupe of the Peking Opera Theatre of Beijing to perform his father's monkey style and the classic play "Xue Pinggui Leaving His Humble Abode".

     The exciting line-up of Monkey King plays to be performed by the Youth Troupe of the Peking Opera Theatre of Beijing and Li Baochun also features "Monkey King Wreaking Havoc in Heaven", "The Eighteen Arhats Fighting with Wukong", "The Bottomless Hole" and "Subduing the Leopard Monster". There are also highly technical martial excerpts including "Sawing the Big Jar" and "Mount Yandang" to showcase the finest young martial arts performers of the troupe, who will perform their superior skills on-stage. In addition to the strong line-up of martial arts performers, Chi Xiaoqiu, who is a renowned Cheng Yanqiu school "qingyi" (virtuous female) actress, and Zhu Qiang, a "laosheng" (old male) actor of the Ma Lianliang style, will stage the classic title of the Cheng Yanqiu school called "A Lesson from the Mother". The exciting programme, which comprises both bold and tender elements, provides satisfaction in all aspects.

     Details of the performances are as follows:

Shao Opera Art Research Institute of Zhejiang
Auditorium, Ko Shan Theatre New Wing
June 24 (7.30pm)
"Monkey King Thrice Beats the Bony Ghost"

June 25 (7.30pm)

June 26 (7.30pm)
"The Flaming Mountain"

Ticket prices: $120 to $280

Youth Troupe of the Peking Opera Theatre of Beijing and Li Baochun
July 28 (7.30pm)
Auditorium, Sha Tin Town Hall
"Monkey King Wreaking Havoc in Heaven", "The Eighteen Arhats Fighting with Wukong"
July 29 (7.30pm)
Auditorium, Sha Tin Town Hall
"A Lesson from the Mother"

July 30 (7.30pm)
Theatre, Ko Shan Theatre

July 31 (7.30pm)
Auditorium, Tuen Mun Town Hall
"Xue Pinggui Leaving His Humble Abode", "The Bottomless Hole"

Ticket prices: $120 to $380

     Tickets are now available at URBTIX ( For telephone credit card bookings, please call 2111 5999.

     For programme enquiries and concessionary schemes, please call 2268 7325 or visit

Ends/Monday, June 6, 2016
Issued at HKT 16:38


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