Comedian sets new stage to Peking Opera story

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As the director of the drama, Chen invited veteran actor Yang Lixin to play the role of a Peking Opera amateur performer, Da Sang'er.

Da had once worked as a delivery boy bringing food to a troupe. He also briefly substituted for a Peking Opera actor in the classic Farewell My Concubine.

"The decision of acting in the drama (Chen's latest) was made during a dinner," says Yang, who became good friends with Chen after co-starring in the comic TV series, A Big House, in 2013.

A famous actor of the established Beijing People's Art Theater, Yang received Peking Opera training at a young age, which helped him interpret the role better.

"We spent a lot of time discussing the dialogue tempo, adjusting our body language and even facial expressions. Chen has the talent to master comedy and he pays attention to detail," says Yang, 58.

In the drama, Yang speaks a Lao-ting dialect, a specialty of North China's Hebei province.

Yang asked a friend from Laoting county to record all the lines in the local dialect for him before the drama's debut.

"I listened to the recording daily, for months," says Yang, a Beijing native.

Yang also says "it is hard to watch a Chinese comedy of quality these days", and he hopes The Stage will make a difference to audiences.

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