TITLE: Kunqu: China's First Great Multi-art Theatrical Tradition
SPEAKER: Marjory Bong-Ray Liu
EVENT DATE: 09/04/2008
FORMAT: Video + Captions
RUNNING TIME: 48 minutes
TRANSCRIPT: View Transcript (link will open in a new window)
Marjory Bong-Ray Liu presented "Total Theatre -- The Art of Kunqu, China's Earliest Classical Opera" as part of the Benjamin Botkin lecture series sponsored by the American Folklife Center.
Chinese opera, especially Kunqu, is particularly noted for its graceful dance movements and gestures that are an integral part of the total art form, unlike many western operas where the aural aspect is predominant. Kunqu classical opera was perfected in the Ming dynasty (1368-1644 A.D.). It uses four main acting roles: sheng, a young male scholar-hero; dan, a female role; jing, a male warrior-statesman; and chou, a comic. Kunqu demonstrated sophistication in relating total speech to melody patterns, and it integrated the arts of dance, poetry, music, mime, symbolism and drama into a complete aesthetic experience that is still admired and enjoyed today.
Speaker Biography: Marjory Bong-Ray Liu was born in Nanjing, China, and spent her first 20 years absorbing both Chinese and Western musics and operas. She later enhanced her studies of Kunqu in Taiwan and mainland China. In 1981, she spent half a year in residence at the prestigious Jiangsu School of Opera in Nanjing, where she was able to observe the daily vigorous training techniques for the young opera students. Since then she has continued to study the complex art of Kunqu.
SERIES: Benjamin Botkin Lecture Series