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First Kugfu Novel Adapted to Peking Opera Appears

Artists from Chinese mainland and Hong Kong have produced China's first Peking Opera adapted from a kungfu novel.

The play, titled "Shen Diao Xia Lu," is based on a popular kungfu novel of the same title by Louis Cha Leung-yung, the most popular kungfu novelist among Chinese readers worldwide.

Artists from Hong Kong and the Peking Opera Troupe of Hubei Province in central China will stage their first show in Hong Kong in early May, after one month of rehearsal.

Many of Louis Cha's kungfu novels have been adapted for films and screens and proved very popular. But this is the first time his novel is put on the Peking Opera stage, the most cherished performance art in traditional Chinese culture.

According to Wang Yonglong, the troupe's deputy director, the idea was first suggested by Deng Wanxia, head of the Hong Kong Association of Peking and Kungfu Opera.

In 2000, Deng told Zhu Shihui, a well-known actor with the troupe, that she wished to co-operate with the troupe in the matter.

Leaders of the troupe show a strong interest when they got the message. The two sides struck a deal immediately, and eventually got financial aid from the Hong Kong government.

Deng, an actor and playwright herself, said she had an idea three years ago to adapt a foreign classic and a Chinese classic into Peking Opera.

"I have taken the Notre-Dame de Paris by Victor Hugo to the stage. For the Chinese classic I have chosen the work of Louis Cha, because of his influence. Where there are Chinese, there are his readers," she said.

To ensure the success of the bold experiment, the troupe has invited some of the best artists in China to its team. Among them are Xu Shiqi, a screenplay writer from Shandong Province, famous for his modern plays; Zhou Zhengpin, a stage designer with the famous Xiaobaihua (Little One Hundred Flower) troupe from Zhejiang; and Sheng Peiqi, a dance designer from the Shanghai Institute of Dancing.

The Peking Opera version of the kungfu novel has eight acts and lasts two hours. Nearly two-thirds of its 60 cast members are first-class actors and actresses in China.

(People’s Daily 04/26/2001)

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