|Home > China Feature|
Shandong Kuaishu, a form of Quyi Arts - Full of Local Flavor
Shandong Kuaishu 山东快书 is a form of Quyi arts with most of its contents spoken during performance. It originated the Daoguang and Xianfeng (early 19th century) reigns of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) in the Linqing and Jining areas of East China's Shandong Province and was popular in northern China and Shandong. Shandong Kuaishu was then popularly called Wu the Second, for the storytelling artists mainly performed the story of Wu Song's Fight with the Tiger, a figure in the classical novel Shui Hu (Outlaws of the Marsh), a direct and forthright, yet comical hero that symbolizes Shandong culture.
Shandong Kuaishu is performed in the Shandong dialect and performers usually stand while singing. During the performance, performers often make use of gestures and eyes and exaggerated body language to build dramatic personae and, at the same time, pay attention to humor and the creation of suspense.
Most Shandong Kuaishu lyrics are seven-character lines with humorous language and vivid scenarios, and performers use exaggerated expressions and speak in quick rhythms. The art form is especially suited to the telling of heroic stories and describes acrobatic fighting in Chinese operas or dances. In the early period, most performers used two tiles to beat the time, later ferula or armor plates and now copperplates.
In the early 1950s, Shandong Kuaishu was introduced toBeijingandTianjin, still in the Shandong dialect. The humorous performance style was recognized by audiences and quickly spread to different places in northern China.
Over time, Kuaishu was divided into two major schools: One is that of Yang Lide, called the Yang School and based inJinan, Shandong Province; the other is that of Gao Yuanjun, based in Beijing and called the Gao School. However most Shandong Kuaishu artists in various places in China belong to the Gao School.
Gao Yuanjun (1916-1993), the most famous Shandong Kuaishu performance artist, was a native of Ningling County,Henan Province. He started to learn Kuaishu at the age of 14. After the founding of new China, he actively devoted himself to literary work in the army and the fostering of younger talents. Gao Yuanjun's narrative and singing are of a relaxed and witty style.
Shandong Kuaishu's language is full of local flavor, so his performance makes one feel very simple and intimate.