Sunday, August 26, 2007

China Peking Opera-Role of Sheng

China Peking Opera-Role of Sheng

Role of Sheng

The roles on the Chinese opera stage fall into four categories -- Sheng, Dan, Jing and Chou. These roles have the natural features of age and sex, as well as social status, and are artificially exaggerated by makeup, costume and gestures.

Sheng, a male role, usually a leading one, dates back to Southern Drama of the Song and Yuan Dynasties (960-1368). This role appears in operas in all historical periods. According to the age and social status of the characters, Sheng falls into five sub-groups: Laosheng, Xiaosheng, Wusheng, Hongsheng and Wawasheng (characters of children).

Laosheng is also known as Xusheng, meaning bearded men, because the actors wear artificial beards, and they are middle-aged or elderly men. Most are upright and resolute characters. They sing in their natural voices, and their actions are serious ones.

Xiaosheng is a sub-category of Sheng representing young male characters. They don't wear artificial beards. They always sing in their real voices, while in Kunqu and Pihuang operas the singing mixes natural and falsetto voices.

Wusheng stands for all of the male characters who appear in battle scenes. They are further subdivided into Changkao Wuheng, Duanda Wusheng, Goulian Wusheng and Houxi Wusheng. They always wear helmets and thick-soled boots. The generals always carry long pikes. Wusheng roles call for sturdy and vigorous actions, with resounding declamations. The movements of the waist and legs are powerful, and a high level of martial arts skills is demanded in these roles. Duanda Wusheng roles use short-handled weapons, and their movements are light and swift.

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