Where the past is a lesson for the future

Updated: 2014-10-02 07:33

By Huang Zhiling in Chengdu(China Daily)

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Where the past is a lesson for the future Wang Yumei (right), an actress with the Chengdu School of Culture and Art in Sichuan province, in a teaching session with her student. Huang Leran / For China Daily

"Lower your leg, please," Wang Yumei gently said before helping her student Liang Xiaoju adjust her leg on a bar in a spacious room in the Chengdu School of Culture and Art in the western suburbs of the capital of Sichuan province.

Liang, 15, is one of 34 students in the Sichuan Opera class. With ages ranging from 9 to 17, the students will perform in the Sichuan Opera Theatre of Chengdu upon graduation in 2016.

"They will be the first school-trained Sichuan Opera performers enrolled in the theater in more than two decades, "said Wang, 39, an actress with the theater.

Since 1992, her theater has recruited a small number of performers from districts and counties in Sichuan but without a school dedicated to training performers, the sustainability of Sichuan Opera, with a history of more than 300 years, could not be ensured.

In2012, the Chengdu municipal government offered funds to enroll students for the theater who would be trained in the Sichuan Opera class at Chengdu School of Culture and Art.

"Some 600 students from different parts of Sichuan took the exams. Only 34 were selected, "said Zhang Xiaojun, principal of the school.

Most of the 34 students had not learned Sichuan Opera. "They were chosen because of their appearance, clear pronunciation in singing and proficiency in imitating Sichuan Opera performers on the scene, "said Wang, a member of the selecting committee. Two years ago she won the Plum Blossom Prize, China's top dramatic performance award.

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