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Good old days on lips: The last dialect storytelling theater

People's Daily Online)  08:48, June 09, 2013  

A few listeners lying on chairs to listen to a story performed by Li Hairong. (Photo/Xinhua)

Edited and translated by Wang Xin, People's Daily Online.

The storyteller gives one beat of the gavel on the wood table, twangs the cymbal to make sounds and begins his storytelling in the workshop of a discarded factory in Fuzhou. Here is the Jade Leaf Storytelling Theater, the performance stage for senior storytelling artists. The theater attracts many old listeners, the oldest being about 90, and youngest 60. Perhaps, because of age, they have to lie on the chair and enjoy the performance.

Fuzhou dialect storytelling originated in Song Dynasty, and is popular in Fujian, Taiwan and other regions of Southeast Asia where people can speak Fuzhou dialect. Also known as Chinese rap, it is listed in the national intangible cultural heritage.

From 1930s to 1960s, there were many Fuzhou dialect storytelling theaters in rural and urban of Fuzhou. Storytelling gradually ebbs tide, the number of storytellers has shrunk from 500 to 30, and all of them are over 50. The Jade Leaf Storytelling Theater is the only one that is still in operation. If the Jade leaf demolished due to city reconstruction in one day, the Fuzhou dialect storytelling will step down from the stage of history, said an old listener.

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(Editor:WangXin、Gao Yinan)


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