Let me entertain you

Updated: 2011-10-26 07:56

By Sun Li (China Daily)

  Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

While most TV programs focus on the traditional aspects of Peking Opera, a variety show on CCTV-11 emphasizes entertainment.

Command in the Theater has been airing since January 2011 and has become the top-rated show on the opera channel.

The weekly show, 60 minutes long, features competitions among four guests (mainly young showbiz entertainers) who try to outdo each other in games related to Peking Opera.

"Not a single program has ever popularized Peking Opera in the form of playing games that can attract young viewers, our target audience," producer Bu Bing says.

"Although Peking Opera is our national artistic treasure, we have to admit not many people, especially youngsters, appreciate it nowadays," Bu says, adding she doesn't know that much herself about the art form.

"To keep Peking Opera from waning, it's important to build a following among the younger generation," she adds. "You won't love a thing unless you see it first, and you won't bother to see it if it doesn't appeal to you."

Since the program's guests and target audience are mostly Peking Opera outsiders, they don't need to be that opera-savvy.

For example, in the show's first part, guests will watch a classical piece staged by a young actor/actress, who will ask five questions connected with his or her performance.

"The performer may ask guests to pick which phrase appeared in the libretto or query them about such facts as names, time and location," Bu says. "As long as you are attentive, there is no difficulty answering the question correctly."

There are also some misleading elements so answering the question correctly involves some guesswork, even for the best-informed competitors.

"The intentionally misleading elements add some fun and I always feel a sense of satisfaction when I learn about the context of a story through the quiz," says Zhang Yuan, a 24-year-old TV series actress who started watching Peking Opera after joining the show.

Other sections of the show that arouse Zhang's interest include a contest spotting differences between two versions of a Peking Opera segment.

"If it is the usual teach-and-learn style thing, I may not be so interested. But when it comes to a game, I feel more energized," Zhang says.

China Daily

(China Daily 10/26/2011 page18)