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Child Training and Employment in Taiwanese Opera 1940s–1960s: An Overview

  • Shih-Ching H. Picucci
Chapter
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Part of the Palgrave Studies in Theatre and Performance History book series (PSTPH)

Abstract

Issues surrounding the ways in which children have affected theatrical performance in a European context have frequently generated discussion, in particular the role of children working in theater. Yet, similar issues that relate especially to traditional local theatrical performances in a non-European context have been insufficiently examined. One such example is Taiwanese opera (gezaixi: song drama). Similar to Beijing opera (or Peking opera), but distinct and unique in its modes of performance, Taiwanese opera first appeared approximately a hundred years ago.1 It continued to flourish and indeed Taiwan’s most renowned opera group, Ming Hwa Yuan Arts and Cultural Group, was elected as the representative family for Taiwan when UNESCO proclaimed 1994 as the International Year of the Family (IYF). This family-run troupe was founded in 1929 and has passed to the second and third generations of the family. They have not only endeavored to preserve its traditions, but have also made a concerted effort to promote the form nationally and internationally throughout the last century.2

Keywords

Female Character Filial Piety Physical Punishment Folk Song Confucian Philosophy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    The direct translation of Taiwanese opera into English would be “song drama.” The song refers to the folk songs of Yilan from which Taiwanese opera emerged approximately in 1911; see Tsu-shang Lu, Taiwan dianying xiju shi [The history of Taiwanese film drama play] (Taipei: Yin hua, 1961), 233–34.Google Scholar
  2. Xiu-jin Huang, Zushiye de nüer: Sun, Tsui-feng de gushi [The daughter of the founder of a sect of Taoism: the story of Sun, Tsui-feng] (Taipei: Shi bao wen hua, 2000), 4.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Chi-tun Hsu, Taiwan jin dai fa zhan shi [Modern History of Taiwan] (Taipei: Jian wei chu ban she, 1996), 43–48.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    According to Yang, the early form of Taiwanese opera focused on singing the folk songs while sitting. It then combined the body movement and the music of che gu xi and Hakka tea picking. Che gu xi (car drum drama) is a comedy drama played for the purpose of divine worship and normally performed by only two players who put on exaggerated or ridiculous costumes and make-up to earn laughter. It was believed that che gu xi has more than 240 years of history. See Fu-ling Yang, Taiwan gezaixi shi [The history of Taiwanese opera] (Taichung, Taiwan: Morning Star Group, 2002), 38–46.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    Harry J. Lamley, “Taiwan Under Japanese Rule, 1895–1945: The Vicissitudes of Colonialism,” in Taiwan: A New History, ed. Murray A. Rubinstein (New York: M. E. Sharpe, Inc., 2007), 204–5.Google Scholar
  6. 11.
    Hsin-hsin Tsai, Cui can ming xia gezaixi ying shi san qi hongxing xiao ming-ming juyi rensheng [Little Ming-Ming’s biography] (Yilan, Taiwan: Preparatory Office of the National Headquarters of Taiwan Traditional Arts, 2011), 30.Google Scholar
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    See Steven Phillips, “Between Assimilation and Independence: Taiwan Political Aspirations Under Nationalist Chinese Rule, 1945–1948,” in Taiwan: A New History, ed. Murray A. Rubinstein (New York: M. E. Sharpe, Inc., 2007), 282–284.Google Scholar
  8. Also see Hsu, Taiwan jin dai fa zhan shi, 1996.Google Scholar
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    Xinyan Jiang, “Confucianism, Women, and Social Contexts,” Journal of Chinese Philosophy 36:2 (2009): 234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 18.
    During most of the twentieth century and even before, the job of being an actor/actress was considered the lowest rank, on a level with prostitutes and servants, in Taiwanese society. Thus, only poor families would send their children to be apprenticed to opera troupes. See Kang-yan Pien, Taiwan Fongsuizhi [Taiwan customs records] (Taipei: Zhong wen, 1994), 147–48;Google Scholar
  11. and Mei-se Lin, Gezaixi huangdi: Yang Li-hua [Emperor of Taiwanese opera: Yang, Li-hua] (Taipei: Shi bao wen hua, 2007), 15–18.Google Scholar
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    Hsu-ling Chiu, Taiwan Yidan fonghua [Geisha arts in Taiwan] (Taipei: Yu shan she, 1999), 288–89.Google Scholar
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    See the example of Li-hua Yang and the comments of her female fans and friends at http://www.rtbot.net/play.php?id=QOhU53sfuBE , accessed November 3, 2012. See also Lin, Gezaixi huangdi: Yang Li-hua, 131; and Hsin-hsin Tsai, Yue ming bing xue xian: you qing ama Hung Ming-hsueh de gezaixi rensheng [Grandmother Hung, Ming-hsueh’s life of Taiwanese opera] (Taipei: Cultural Affairs Department of Taipei County Government, 2008), 66.Google Scholar
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    Limin Bai, “Children at Play: A Childhood beyond the Confucian Shadow,” Childhood 12:1 (2005): 10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Wei-ming Tu, “Confucius and Confucianism,” in Confucianism and the Family, ed. Walter H. Slote and George A. DeVos (New York: State University of New York, 1998), 3.Google Scholar
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    David K. Jordan, “Filial Piety in Taiwanese Popular Thought,” in Confucianism and the Family, ed. Walter H. Slote and George A. DeVos (New York: State University of New York, 1998), 268.Google Scholar
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    Donald Chang, John D. Mitchell, and Roger Yeu, “How the Chinese Actor Trains: Interviews with Two Peking Opera Performers,” Educational Theatre Journal 26:2 (1974): 189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Walter H. Slote, “Psychocultural Dynamics within the Confucian Family,” in Confucianism and the Family, eds. Walter H. Slote and George A. DeVos (New York: State University of New York, 1998), 47–48.Google Scholar

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© Gillian Arrighi and Victor Emeljanow 2014

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  • Shih-Ching H. Picucci

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