Comedian sets new stage to Peking Opera story

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In his new drama, The Stage, which tells the story of Peking Opera artists from the 1930s, comedian Chen Peisi plays the role of a troupe owner, Hou Xiting.

Chen Peisi (left) and Yang Lixin play the major roles in the drama The Stage, which will tour the country after its success in Beijing in the summer. Photos provided to China Daily

Faced with the dilemma of dealing with difficult government officials on the one hand and with warlords on the other, Hou has to compromise to survive.

Chen's plays have always revolved around stories of misfortune.

When he read the script for The Stage written by his childhood friend Yu Yue, he was ecstatic.

"It seemed like I had waited for this my whole life," says Chen, 61. "I finished reading the story overnight. I laughed and felt sad at the same time."

The first few shows of the drama were sold out this summer when staged by Beijing Comedy Theater, a drama project launched in May by Chen and run by the National Center for the Performing Arts.

In the first two months of 2016, Chen's drama will tour eight cities, including Shanghai, Nanjing in East China's Jiangsu province and Shenzhen in southern Guangdong province.

In 1983, Chen became a household name after performing in the sketch comedy Eating Noodles for CCTV's Spring Festival Gala, which is among the country's most popular TV programs.

Since then he has made Chinese audiences laugh with his on-screen presence. Chen started a parallel career in theater in 2001.

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