Battle At Reed Flower Lake SU-SAN.The Convict.On Her Way YAN YANG CHAMBER CAO CAO IS FASCINATED BY A BEAUTY

1. 蘆花蕩
Battle at Reed Flower Lake
1991.43x67cm
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2. 蘇三起解
Su-San. The Convict on her way
1991.48x68cm
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3. 艷陽樓
Yan Yang Chamber
1993.24x34cm
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4. 曹操驚艷
Cao Cao is Fascinated by a beauty
1992.66x66cm
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THE STORTY OF A JADE BRACELET AN EMPEROR IN COMMEN DRESS TO DALLY WITH A WAITRESS General Pei Death By An Enemy's Trickry TO DIE FOR A LOVER WHO APPEARED ONCE IN HER DREAM

5. 拾玉鐲
The story of a jade bracelet
1992
  43x67cm
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6. 游龍戲鳳
An Emperor on commen dress to flirt with a waitress
1993  44x66cm
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7. 火燒裘元慶
General Pei death by an enemy's tricky
1993  24x34cm
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8. 牡丹亭
To die for a lover who appeared once in her dream

1993
  50x59cm
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Yu Tangchun And Wang Jinlong
TOHANGING PICTURES
9. 玉堂春與王金龍
Yu Tangchun and Wang Jinlong
1991  67x33cm
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10. 挂畫
To hanging pictures
1993
  68x40cm
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11. 牡丹亭
Peony Pavilion

1992
34x48cm

12. 牡丹亭
Peony Pavilion

1992
34x50cm
13. 艷陽樓
Sunny Chamber

1993
68x45cm
14. 祟公道
Chong Gong Dao

1993
33x48cm
15. 花田錯
The Story of an error

1993
68x45cm
16. 三岔口
A junction of three roads

2000
48x29cm
17. 三岔口
A junction of three roads

2000
31x43cm
18. 呂布驚艷
Lubu is fascinated by
Diao Chan

2001
48x40.5cm
19. 霸王別姖
The concubine

2001
47.5x43cm
20. 霸王別姖
The concubine

2001
47.5x41.5cm
 
21. 烏盆記
The legend of
the black basin

2001
32.5x43cm
22. 扈三娘
Lady Hu San

2001
48x43cm
23. 放裴
Red Plum Pavilion

2001
47x29.5cm
 

Excerpts of Comments on Jin Donfang's Paintings

  • Zhang Ken (Honorary Chairman of the Changzhou Fine Arts Association):
    While carrying forward the fine tradition of her teachers Guan Liang and Lin Fengmian, Jin Dongfang has developed her own unique artistic style: her pictures have strong generality, high expressiveness, unique forms, spontaneous movements and natural expressions. They are vividly depicted with a few lines and brief strokes, but have a strong flavour.

  • Ding Deyuan (Vice Chairman and Deputy Secretary General of the Changzhou Fine Arts Association):
    Her pictures present lasting entertainment and interest. They are neither too candid nor too reserved. Instead they are simple and natural. A certain theatrical critic has once commented on her theatrical pictures: "The posture of her characters is very accurate".In fact she has assimilated folk art into her painting, such as shadow puppet show and clay figure making. She paints with bright red and green colours but without vulgarity, with fine lines but without frailty. She draws with great accuracy, but is free from rigidity. Her pictures are steady but tender. They are enlivened with rhythm and motion and enjoy and elegant taste. They have a strong sense of modernity.

  • Lu Luching (a member of the Jiangsu Fine Arts Association):
    Jin Dongfang and I have been schoolmates of China (Zhejiang) Fine Arts Academy. Our teachers often mention her achievements. Firstly, in her painting she has assimilated the style of Professor Guan Liang but in the meantime she maintains her own unique feature. Her pictures are characterized by the grand scope of a great master. They are imbued with the force of expression. Her imagination goes far above the picture. Secondly, she has developed her own style, which is neither Guan Liang's nor Lin Fengmian's. Last but not least, her paintings have a strong sense of modernity.

  • Mo Shuzi (a member of the Jiangsu Fine Arts Association):
    From the pictures published in "The Fine Artist
    I thought that the painter should not be a woman. After seeing the exhibition of her paintings, I think her pictures have two striking characteristics: One is vividness. The eyes of the characters are full of expression. The other is boldness and elegance in applying colour. Peking opera and folk art are exuberant with bright red and green colours. After her treatment, they are raised to richness and sublimity.

  • Pan Mao (Deupty Director of Changzhou Academy of Calligraphy and Painting): Jin Dongfang's pictures can imply a lot by scarce strokes. They have exaggerated shape and natural variation. She has combined the folk art with the art of an academic artist and has explored into new realms and created new spheres.

  • Mao Shibo (Vice Chairman of the Jiangxi Fine Arts Association):One can inherit the tradition of his masters through hard work. And it is comparatively easier to get in the tradition. But it is difficult to get out of it. Now Jin Dongfang has already obtained her unique style through her search and has got out of it.

  • Ma Hongdao (a director of the Chinese Fine Arts Association):
    As far as the attainment of her oil painting is concerned, its literary achievement is like the deep underground base while the visible part is of light grace and lofty quality.

  • Yuan Cheng (a senior master of painting of the Nanchang Academy of Painting):
    One who has only technique but lacks culture is just an artisan. A cultured painter is the result of an all ?round development. Jin Dongfang is concurrently a writer, a painter with a deep foundation of Western painting. Therefore she has enriched the traditional technique of painting.

  • Dr. Helga Werle-Burger (Director of Lübeck Figurentheater Museum, Germany):
    In using ink Jin Dongfang combines dryness and humidity. In applying colour, she combines thin elegance with thick exuberance. Her style has the tenderness of water, which gives a feeling of silk and satin, It also has the masculine force which can cut like a sharp knife. In her pictures there is a harmonious balance of contrasts. In drawing pictures she possesses an unparalleled power, She paints with insight into her characters, On the paper she presents the lifelike theatrical figures with concise and outstanding artistic language, So her pictures are depicted in detail and beautifully drawn.

畫 評 摘 錄

  • 張懇 (常州市美協名譽主席) :金東方師承關良和林風眠,但有自已的風格,概括力強,表現力高,造型獨特,一剎那動作表情,幾條線神氣出來了,味道濃郁。

  • 丁德源 (常州市美協副主席兼秘書長) :她的畫耐看,有趣味,不露、不藏,朴實不做作。有位戲曲藝術家評她的戲畫:"亮相"很準。她吸收皮影戲和泥人等民間藝術,用色大紅大綠而不俗氣,用線細而不軟、準而不板、穩而綿長,有律動感、有韻味,而且畫出了現代感。

  • 陸路晴 (江蘇省美協會員) :我和金東方是浙江美術學院前後校友,老師常提起她。看她畫,揉合了我院已故教授關良的趣味,卻有自己的性格。作品特點一是"大器",有大家風度,有張力,想象力達到畫外;二是性格強,不是關,不是林,是她自己。三是具現代意識。

  • 莫樹滋 (江蘇美協會員) :從《美術家》看她作品不像女性;這次看她畫展,一是傳神,眼睛一上一下也傳神;二是色彩大膽而高雅。京戲和民間藝術紅紅綠錄蠻熱鬧,經她處理,豐富而高雅。

  • 潘茂 (常州市書畫院副院長) :以少勝多、造型誇張、變形自然。她將民間藝術和文人畫相結合, 開升新領域、辟新天地。

  • 毛士博 (江西美協副主席) :繼承大師只需要功夫深,"進"得比較快;困難在於進去了又能"出"來。她探索到了自己獨特的風格,她"出"來了。

  • 馬宏道 (中國美協理事) :牠的油畫造諧和文學素養好比深埋在地下的厚實基礎,地面上只見輕鬆瀟洒高格調。

  • 阮誠 (南昌畫回院高圾畫師) :有藝無文是"匠"。文人畫是各方面修養平均的結果。她身兼作家,西畫功底深厚,不料傳統技法更加多樣化。

  • Helga Werle-Burger 博士 (德國 Lübeck Figurentheater 博物館館長) :她用墨有乾渴有潤涅,用色有淡雅有濃艷;既有如水的陽柔,予人絲綢般的觸感;也有如刀的陽剛,鋒銳凌厲,在畫面上構成和諧或對比,取得平衡。金東力作面有不凡的功力,用她獨具慧眼的對人的洞察力,以簡練而卓越的藝術語言,將中國戲曲活現紙上,刻劃入微,瑰麗多姿。

 
金東方
中國戲曲的特點
 

中國戲曲是綜合性藝術, 它包括舞、唱、誦、雜技、武術、詩韻、化裝、音樂、美術等等。現在試以觀眾角度來談談個人感受。

中國戲曲在世界戲劇領域埵釣鉿菑v的一套獨特旳完整體系, 世上沒有任何一種戲劇可與中國戲曲比擬。

首先是歷史悠久: 自秦、漢、隋、唐的優戲, 角牴戲, 歌舞戲, 到宋、金的雜劇、南戲, 再到元雜劇、明傳奇、清亂彈, 以至近代的京劇和各地方戲為止, 幾千年來, 我國舞台上推陳出新, 爭芳鬥艷未曾停止。最後京劇排眾而出君臨其他劇種, 成為世上獨一無二的舞台藝術極品。

其次, 京劇四大要素"唱、做、念、打"中的 "做", 不是東方各國如印度、日本等國起著符號作用的古典舞蹈, 或西方的與生活脫節的古典舞蹈。中國戲曲是由規矩的"程式"和優美的"身段"構成, 從現實生活奡ㄦ狾茖, 與戲劇連成一氣水乳交融, 綴出豐富動人的故事情節。

還有, 京劇之中有"短打"即武術與雜技, 是在清代與京劇同步成長的, 那時接近北京的幾個省份如山東、河南、山西及東北一帶交通不便, 旅行常有遇劫的情形, 於是出現了"保鏢"的行業, 專責護送商旅, 或替豪門府邸看護庄院, 會發生一些離奇曲折的命案, 於是文藝各界根據案情, 經過藝術加工, 有編成說書人話本的, 有寫成武俠小說的。反映在京劇中, 則產生了"彭公案", "施公案"一類以短打為主的劇目。鴉片戰爭後, 北京一帶水陸交通漸漸便利, 原來幹"保鏢"的便轉業幹起掠地賣技或也有加入戲班的: 加入戲班的, 若再從唱、做、念等表演藝術方面勤功苦練, 有天才者則可以進而成為名角兒, 如京劇大師譚鑫培便是: 他的拿手戲目《秦瓊賣馬》中的耍間以及《翠屏山》中石秀的舞刀, 據說都是真實功夫。

京劇與貼近生活、風格寫實的地方戲比較, 是意境深遠、格調高古, 因為(我認為)京劇屬宮廷藝術。

二百多年前, 安徽的地方戲"徽班"進京, 從昆曲吸收養料發展成京劇。從清初起, 帝后就愛看京劇, 康熙在宮中就建迼了大大小小戲台共四十九個, 凡要看戲, 主事的便到宮外挑選頂尖兒戲班進宮作御前演出, 京劇便漸發展成為"宮廷藝術"。

御前演戲可不能隨便, 舉手投足必按既定程式, 一板三眼, 中規中矩, 萬萬不能"爆肚"、"洒狗血"。 因此磨練越來越精緻, 技巧越演越高超。不曾進過宮的戲班也以御前演員為模範, 漸漸建立起風格, 繼而形成流派, 便是雅緻、端莊、含蓄、意境深遠的京劇。

京人看不起上海的京劇, 指稱"海派"。因為海派京劇不守宮廷藝術的分寸, 誇張些、生動些, 但比起地方戲來仍不失規矩, 到底還是京劇嘛, 俱備京劇的一切特點, 只風格不同而已。

數中國戲曲的特點, 最重要的還是以抽象的手法, 虛擬的舞台裝置, 載歌載舞地演戲而感染觀眾。

就以京劇《打漁殺家》為例, 蕭恩與桂英兩父女是以打漁為生的, 劇中人要航船, 要在船上待客, 謀略, 要在船外打鬥, 這條船之重要不言而喻, 可是舞台上並沒有船。如果以西洋的"科學"方法處理, 當然非得有船不可, 多半是把漁船斷面切開。不過佈置得再逼真, 也只能是一隻頤和園的石船, 做不到浮在水上的效果, 總不成泵一江水上舞台吧? 蕭恩一聲〝開船哪!〞怎麼辦?

但是到了中國戲曲家手奡N妙了: 舞台裝置是虛擬的, 表演手法是抽象的; 舞台上有廣闊的場地給演員大展拳腳, 意識埵竟延L邊際的空間給觀眾的想象力馳騁。演《打漁殺家》的演員們, 只消幾個身段便能表現出船在水面蕩漾。幾句唱、白、幾個眼神即可交代出江上一派水色風光, 那隻虛擬的船要開便開, 要停便停, 它還能在台上旋轉: 一會兒橫在舞台, 一會兒船頭或船尾對著觀眾, 演員一會兒船外, 一會兒船, 演到出神入化。不但"形似" 而且"神似", 比如蕭恩往桂英處跨一大步, 跟著兩人便柔和地此起彼落一番, 表現出船在江面上搖晃盪漾。中國戲曲是無所不能的。

中國戲曲舞台上可以空無一物。

有人認為中國戲曲之所以運用抽象與虛擬的手法, 是因為古時演戲限於經濟力量, 置辦不起舞台裝置。那麼西方舞台之運用實景及寫實方法, 是因為他們置辦得起舞台裝置了?顯然此說不能成立。又有人說因為我國古代劇場形式特殊的緣故, 那是圈地為"台", 觀眾圍在四周, 台四面設有一尺多高的柵欄。宋元時代稱為"勾欄"。後來把一面隔起來, 成為三面, 演員從左邊上場, 右邊下場, 舞台上則空無一物。所以直到現在依然是台上沒有裝置。其實古希臘的"競技場"情形也差不多, 差別只是上下場不分左右(我國戲曲之〝左上右下〞是重要的固定形式)及他們規模大些而已, 唯其因為規模大, 故不常舉行。難道這便是東、西方戲劇日後會分道揚鏕的緣故?顯然此說也不能成立。

那麼是什麼原因使得東西方戲劇體系有截然不同的發展呢?個人以為主要是東西方兩種哲學觀念有分別; 西方文化基本是"智", 他們觀念堨u有合"理"與不合"理": 東方文化基本是"情"; 我們觀念堨u有美與不美; 他們對自然的態度是採取"征服"與'佔有"; 我們對自然的態度, 是採取"了解"與"調和"; 他們對藝術的態度是靠"分析", 而我們對藝術的態度是用"感覺"; 這完全是南北極。反映在戲劇領域堣]是如此: 他們要"實實在在", 我們要"留有餘地"。以下再以繪畫為例:

西方文化最燦爛時期之一的"文藝復興", 他們的畫家是在幽暗的畫室, 面對著擺好姿態的模特兒, 目不轉睛, 年復一年地在同一幅畫布上摸索; 慘淡經營, 力求"形似"。是因為他們經濟力量能買到足夠的油彩以填滿畫布嗎?是因為他的畫布上原就並非空白嗎?當然不是。反過來看看同時代的我國元朝時期, 便有"抒我之情, 寫我之意"的說法, 已經出現了瀟灑簡逸的"文人畫"; 倪雲林說:"余之竹聊以寫胸中逸氣耳。"其作品崇尚清雅的"空靈"而成一代逸品。難道他是家窮, 而"惜墨如金"嗎? 難道因為我們的宣紙本是一片潔白之故嗎?--當然不是。

回頭來再說戲劇, 西方的舞台上裝置實景, 我們的舞台上可以空舞一物, 也是不同的哲學觀, 不同的審美觀所使然。

中國戲曲其實也曾試過精巧的立體舞台裝置: 明代演《唐明皇遊月宮》, 舞台上就可以做到五色雲氣繚繞, 有桂樹、輕紗、橋樑等。最後劇中人還能向月宮冉冉上升呢。如清康熙時演《目連》. 也曾將真馬活虎牽上舞台, 這種玩意兒不再是戲曲, 而是炫耀"工藝"與"技術", 出現不久便被否定, 被揚棄了。

舞台裝置是一種"工藝", 要在舞台上裝一片牆, 一扇門, 現代做得到, 古代也做得到, 但是我們的祖先知道, 一裝上牆門, 舞台空間多大便是多大了, 總大不過百千方尺, 而我們的劇情所需要的空間卻是無限的, 從咫尺到千里, 時間也沒有限制, 我們的戲曲人物需要在幾分鐘堭q某地(可能在千里外)到達某地: 如《穆桂英大戰洪州》, 穆桂英下令"眾將官, 帶馬兵發洪州!"曲牌中她在台上走一圈, 在下場門站定, 就到了洪州了。在這個時間她要同觀眾在一起, 她要演幾個絕妙的身段給觀眾看看, 她要乘這時間向觀眾交代一些情節和自己的情緒: 她可能徒步, 如《斷橋》中; 許仙從鎮江的金山步行到杭州的斷橋找白娘娘, 也可以騎馬, 一路上可能漫天風雪(如《林沖夜奔》), 也可能景色宜人(如《白蛇傳》的"游湖")。在台上走了若干圈到達屋前, 還念一聲:"不覺來到了某某地方……"然後做一個進門的動作, 而屋內的人可能自他上場前便早已坐在台上了, 這屋子可能是華廈宮廷(如《二進宮》), 也可能是芧草寒舍……(如《汾河灣》)……總之天地之寬、世界之大, 小小的中國戲曲舞台一無所有, 又無所不包。

不過別以為我們的舞台上一無所有: 門牆都是虛擬的, 因而演員可以隨便演, "自由"得很, 其實不然, 這與國畫堛 "意到筆不到"是一樣的道理。宣紙一片空白, 畫一葉小舟, 那空白處不必畫水, 我們也知道小舟在江上, 反之如空白處出現茅屋, 而又未交代陸地, 那不患水災了嗎?舞台也一樣, 雖然空無所有, 但演員出入門, 上下樓的動作都得交代得一清二楚, 推開門進屋時抬一下腳, 那表示跨進了門檻, 可能還有回身關門的動作, 他要走出屋子若是不開門也不抬腳, 他便絕對走不出這扇虛設的門, 否則觀眾同樣會質問: 怎麼牆和門都消失啦?這並非觀眾專從小處著眼, 乃是演員既做了進屋的動作, 那麼無論怎樣活動, 在觀眾的觀念, 他仍然是在屋子媄銦C

中國戲曲舞台上的一張桌子與兩把椅子是萬能的: 在屋外, 可作為山嶺、橋樑、城堡……等, 在屋堣S可作為衙門公案、臥床帳幕、宮廷龍座、或普通桌椅。這桌椅又可將空間距離拉近, 做到"天涯咫尺"。比如京劇《華容道》堛疑鬗蔓蒂b台側桌上瞭望, 周圍立著周倉、關平及兵卒們, 那桌椅便是山坡了。曹操帶了幾名將官在台上走動, 表示他在狼狽中逃竄。關公與曹操之間的實際距離起碼也有數里之遙吧? 但雙方同台同時表演, 觀眾都能看得清楚, 聽得明白。

中國戲曲不但可以拉近距離, 還可變換方向。比如京劇《三堂會審》, 蘇三進入都察院, 最初是背對觀眾, 跪向王金龍等三位審官, 幾句對白後, 進入一段重要唱功時, 她可以轉過身來面對觀眾而跪, 為的是讓觀眾欣賞她的表演。

中國戲曲奇妙處還不止此, 如京劇《三岔口》, 焦贊被發配充軍, 途中投宿客棧, 任堂惠趕來保護, 半夜堹Q燈黑火的與店主打到落花流水, 兩位演員自然是在燈火通明的舞台上演的, 卻假裝在黑暗中摸索而顯得搏殺有些困難, 觀眾則也假裝認作演員彼此看不見, 欣賞著演員們精湛的表演。

在中國繪畫, 我們把解剖、透視的規律撇開; 在中國戲曲, 我們則把時間、空間作另類的解釋並加以演繹。形成了獨特的藝術體系, 境界之高, 無以復加。

原載1975年1月號<明報月刊>

 

Characteristic of Chinese Operas
By   Jin Dongfang

A Chinese opera is a comprehensive art which involves dancing, singing, recitation, acrobatics, martial arts, poetic rhymes, make-up, music, fine art and so on. Every item of them is a specialized skill. Now I shall talk about my thoughts and impressions about this from a spectator's view.

Chinese operas form a complete system in the realm of world drama. No drama in the world can compare with them.

First of all, they have a long history. In the Qin, Han, Sui and Tang Dynasties, there was the "You Opera", "Jiaodi Opera" and song and dance opera. In Song and Jin dynasties, there were zaju drama, potic drama set to music, and South opera. In the Yuan Dynasty, there appeared Yuan poetic drama, Ming legend drama and Qing Luantan drama. Up to the present time, we have Beijing opera and various local operas. For thousands of years, on the Chinese stage, newly created plays have been appearing to succeed the old ones. They vie with each other for beauty and success. To our era, Beijing Opera (to my appreciation, Taiwan calls it the National Opera) has stood out and lords it over all other operas and has become the unique opera in the world because of its supreme stage art.

Secondly, among Beijing Opera's four major elements, "singing, acting, reciting and fighting acrobatics", the acting is quite different from the rigid symbolic actions in traditional dance in India and Japan and other countries in the East, it is also different from the Western classical dance which is divorced from real life. Instead, the acting of Beijing Opera is formed by the standard acting norms and the graceful body posture of the actor or actress. These norms and postures are derived from life and they become flesh and blood of the play to add beauty and spirit to the moving story.

Besides, the "fighting acrobatics" in Beijing Opera is in fact acrobatics and martial act combined. It grew with Beijing Opera in the Qing Dynasty. At that time traffic was not convenient in the provinces around Beijing, such as Shandong, Henan, Shanxi and provinces of the Northeast. Travellers were always robbed. Therefore the trade of bodyguards appeared. The bodyguards were responsible for escorting traveling businessmen, or guarding the homes for others. There would occur fantastic and complicated cases of murder. Hence the literary people, based on these cases and through artistic processing, compiled scripts for storytellers, or wrote novels about heroic outlaws. In Beijing opera, they produced "Case Solved by Lord Peng" and "Case Solved by Lord Shi", such plays as having short fighting in the plot. After the Opium War, land and water transportation around Beijing became more convenient than before, the original bodyguards changed their profession into that of street-performers. Some of them joined the dramatic troupes. These actors, if they worked hard at the performing art of singing, acting and reciting, and were gifted enough, could become famous actors. Tan Xinpei, the great master of Beijing opera was one example. His masterpieces of performance, "Qin Qiong Sold his Steed" in which he brandished his mace, and "Cuiping Mountains" in which the character Shi Xiu flourished his sword were said to be done with the actore's real martial feats.

I'd like to add one more point. In my opinion, Beijing opera is the art of the court, and it is superior to any other type of Chines opera. In China, there were more than 300 different provincial operatic forms. The one originated in Anhui made its way into Beijing, where it came under various theatre influences and gradually evolved into a form of its own: the Beijing opera.

At the beginning of the Qing Dynasty, emperors and empresses loved Beijing opera and they often summoned outstanding troups for royal performances. This top honour encouraged the operatic artists to further refine and perfect their art and skills. That brought about the graceful, subtle and yet solemn style for the art of the court, and has since become the model of Beijing opera performances throughout the country.

China's operas have many distinguished characteristics. What is the most important of them is that they use abstract methods, imaginary stage setup, performance with songs and dance so as to achieve the objective of affecting and impressing the audience. Its powerful strength of infection finds no compeer in the stage art of other oriental countries which takes song and dance as the main form or Western drama which uses realistical approach to put real things on the stage.

Let's take Beijing Opera "The Fisherman and the Murderer" as an example. In the play, the father Xiao En and his daughter XiaoGui-ying make a living by fishing. The characters in the play must sail the boat. They must receive guests on the boat, make strategies on it and fight against bad guys out of it. So the boat is very important to them without saying. But on the stage, there is no boat. If this is dealt with by the method of Western drama, there must be a boat, most likely, a boat in cross section. But this stage setup is so realistic, it is nothing but a static boat, like the stone boat in Summer Palace, which cannot get the effect of the boat floating on water. You cannot pump water of a river to flood the stage, Can you? But as soon as the character Xiao En announces "Sail the boat!" the image and the effect are there!

But wonder appears when it comes to the hands of the dramatic experts: the stage setup is imaginary, the performing approach is abstract, on the stage there is ample space for the actors and actresses to display their acting feats, leaving the audience infinite space for imagination. When the actors perform "The Fisherman and the Murderer", just by several body postures, they can express the floating boat on the rippling waters, by singing a couple of arias or some recitation, or by several glances, they can show us the scene of a river. The imaginary boat is going to sail or going to stop at the will of the actor according to the story. It can also turn around: one time is stands horizontally on the stage, the other time, its stem or stern faces the audience. The actor can act within the boat or out of it. Their performance reaches the same of perfection. The body posture of China's operas is different from the body language of Indian classical dance. The dance posture of the Indian classical dance is just a kind of symbol, while China's operas, though they are a bit different from realities, are refined from raw material of life. They act not only similar to life in form but also similar to it in spirit. For example, Xiao En made a big stride towards Gui Ying, then they softly dance up and down one after the other. If one has never seen Beijing opera, he will get confused. He does not know what it means by the actor and actress squatting and standing up by turns.

But after the meaning is explained to him, he seems to wake up from a dream and strikes the table in admiration. Now he has come to know that China's operas are omnipotent.

The stage of China's operas can be blank and empty.

Some people think that China's operas use abstract and fictitious approach because performance in the ancient time was limited by poor economic power. The dramatic troupes could not afford to buy stage equipment. Then, the Western stage uses real scenery and realistic method. Is this because they can afford the stage setup? It is obvious that this theory is not true. And some other people assert that it is because the shape of our ancient theatre was different. The stage was made by circling the ground. The spectators sat around the stage. The four sides of the stage was installed with railings of one foot high, which were called "high rails" in the Song and Yuan Dynasties. Later, one side was separated, leaving three sides open. Actors enter the stage from the left side and exeunt from the right, but the stage was blank and empty. That is why the stage is still void of setup. In fact the ancient Greek arena was similar. But the difference only lay in the fact that the actors could go up or leave the stage at any side (but that was the set form of our ancient operas as well,) and their scale was bigger. As their scale was large, performance was rarely done. Isn't this the cause which makes the eastern and western operas take different roads? Obviously this theory does not hold good.

Then what caused the eastern and the Western dramatic systems to become so different? In my opinion, it is the difference of the Oriental and the Occidental philosophical concepts. The western culture is basically "reason". In their concept, there is only reasonability or unreasonability. But the eastern culture is basically affection. In our concept, there is only beauty or non-beauty. Their attitude towards nature is conquest and possession. Out attitude towards nature is understanding and mediation. Their attitude towards art is by analysis, while ours is by perception. They are like the North and South Poles. Reflected in drama, the case is the same. They pursue what is real, we always want to leave a leeway. In the following part I shall take painting for example.

One of the most florious ages in Western culture was Renaissace. At the time, their artists stayed in the gloomy studio, face to face with the posed model and with gazing eyes, worked hard on the same canvas year after year, taking great pains to pursue similarity in form. Was it that they were rich enough to buy pigments to fill up the canvas? Or was it that his canvas was not blank originally? Of course not. On the contrary, let's look at our Yuan Dyansty which happened to be contemporary with Renaissance. There was already such a saying, "I paint to vent my feelings and to express my ideas." At that time there appeared "paintings by literary men" which were lofty and concise. The painter Ni Yun-lin said, "I paint bamboos only to vent my pent feelings in my bosom." His works with grace and spirit became treasure of his time because they "had something in nothing." Was he too poor and had to grudge ink? Was it that our Xuan paper for painting is a piece of blank and clean sheet? Of course not!

Let's return to drama. On the Western stage, real scenery is set up, but our stage can be empty. It is also because of the different philosophic views and different views on judging beauty.

Actually, China's operas have also tried to use fine and elaborate three-dimensional stage scenes. In the Ming Dynasty, when "Tang Ming Emperor Visits the Moon" was performed, on the stage they managed to get drifting colourful clouds, the osmanthus tree, gauze, and the bridge. At last, the character of the play rose slowly to the moon. And during the time of Emperor Kang Xi in the Qing Dynasty when the play "Mu Lian" was performed, a real horse and a living tiger were led to the stage in order to show off the technique and martial skills, but it was not like an opera in consequence. After a while, this practice was negated and discarded.

Essentially, stage setup is a kind of craft. The job of building a wall on the stage, or making a door on it can and could be done now and in the ancient time. But our forefathers knew that once the wall was built, the space was narrowed that much, no more than one hundred or one thousand square feet. But the space demanded by the plot of the play is limitless, from ten feet to a thousand miles. Time has no limit either. In our opera, the character is required to go from one place to another (maybe a thousand miles away) in a couple of minutes. For example, in the opera "Mu Gui-ying Engages in a Fierce Battle in Hongzhou," Mu Gui-ying issued her order, "all generals and men, ride your horse and storm and capture Hongzhou!" In the stage directions, she just goes one round on the stage and then she stands steadily at the stage exit, then and there she arrived in Hongzhou. It only took her one minute! During this time, she displays several wonderful body postures to the audience, briefing them some developments of the play and telling them her feelings and determination. The character can go on foot, such as Xu Xian in the play <<On the Broken Bridg>> who walked from Jinshan (a neighbor province) it is far away to the Broken Bridge in Hangzhou to look for his wife Bai Suzhen. The character can also ride a horse, going through drifting snows in freezing cold, such as Lin Chong in <<Lin Chong Fled at Night>>. Itmay be a pleasant scene, such as the scene of touring the West Lake by boat in the play <<The Legend of the White Snake>>. On the stage the character struts several rounds and then recites, "Here I am, I have come to ---." And then an action of entering the door is done. Most likely, the people in the house have already been there before he entered the house. The house may be a luxurious mansion or a sumptuous palace (such as that in <<Entering the Court Twice>>, or it may be a humble thatched hut (such as <<The Fen River Bend>> ?In a word, the spaciousness of the sky and earth and the immensity of the world, can all be contained in the small stage of the Chinese opera.

But don't think that our stage has nothing at all. Door and wall are imaginary, so the actors can perform with freedom, they seem to be extremely free. But actually they are not. This is similar to the idea of "the intention has come, but the writing brush has not." The Xuan paper for painting is blank and white. On it we paint a small boat. In where there is a blank place, even though we don't have to paint water on it, still we know the small boat is floating on the river. On the other hand, if a thatched hut appears in the blank place and we do not indicate land there, will there be flood? A stage is also like this: although there is nothing on it, still, when the actor does the acting of entering and going out of the house or going up or down the stairs with clear indication, pushes the door open, raises his foot to show that he goes over the threshold, or he has the action of turning back to close the door, then everything becomes clear. When he goes out from the house, if he does not do the action of opening the door and raising his foot, he can never go out of the door, otherwise the audience will call to account: why is that the door and wall disappear? It is not that the spectators like to pick fault, but that since the actor has done the action of entering the house, no matter what he does in it, he is still in the house in the eyes of the spectators.

On the stage of a Chinese opera, a table and two chairs can be multifunctional. Outside the house, they can be a mountain, a bridge or a castle. Within a house, they can be an official table to try criminals, the curtain for a bed, the throne of the emperor or an ordinary table and chair. The table and chair can also shorten the distance of space, bringing the distant land near. For example, in the opera <<On the Road to Huarong>>, when General Guan Yun-chang stands on the table, with Zhou Chang, Guan Ping and soldiers standing around, the table and chairs become a mountain slope. When Cao Cao leads several of his generals to walk around, this shows he flees from his lost battle, from far to near. There must be a distance of several miles, right? But the performance of the two sides allows the audience to see and hear clearly what it means.

An another wonderful view, for example, in Beijing opera <<On the Cross Road>>, Jiao Zan was exiled to join the army. On the way he stays at an inn for the night. Ren Tang-Hui comes to protect him. At the dark midnight, he has a fierce fight with the owner of the inn. Of course the two actors perform on the brightly lit stage, but they pretend to search and fight against each other at night with some difficulty. And the audience pretend that the actors cannot see each other but they themselves have eyes that can see at dark night. This is also the case in <<Wu Song Fights at the Inn>>.

In Chinese paintings, we brush aside the laws of dissection and perspective. In the Chinese opera we discard the concept of time and space. It has formed its unique artistic system. Its achievement and status are supreme.

Published in <<Ming Bao Monthly>>, in the issue of January, 1975