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History with humor

By Erik Nilsson (China Daily)

08:23, August 27, 2012

The National Peking Opera House stages its modern Peking Opera Shajiabang in Jiangsu province. Wang Jiankang / For China Daily

Erik Nilsson visits a revolutionary base in Jiangsu province and gets a dramatic view of the past, colored with a touch of comedy.

When visiting Red historical sites, you don't expect to see singing priests, latex-clad superheroes or actual explosions. Nor do you expect to get wet. That's how Shajiabang village in Jiangsu province's Wuxi catches the visitor by surprise.

Sure, the site where the founding of a Country Party Committee was born and where soldiers injured while fighting Japanese invaders were treated has the expected museum. It's replete with the anticipatable tons of guns, art honoring the era and wax figure recreations of historical scenes.

And there are placards commemorating the Shanghai Opera Flame in the Reed Marshes and namesake Peking Opera Shajiabang, "which made the story of Shajiabang a national institution".

But it's the onsite comedic performance scripted by local site managers that puts the "bang" in Shajiabang - and then adds an exclamation point. Make that many bangs, booms and bams, as the show crackles with real explosions.

The slapstick show is a take on the story of A Qing Sao (Sister-in-Law A Qing), a woman who treated many soldiers injured in the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1937-45).

The performance blends equal parts of pyrotechnics, history and hilarity.

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