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Henan dialect play Old Street wows audience in Beijing

By Du Mingming and Xie Xiaofan (People's Daily Online)    16:22, September 19, 2018

Artists perform the Old Street at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Sep. 16, 2018. (Photos: provided to People's Daily Online)

Old Street, an original play in central China’s Henan dialect, has won warm applause from the audience at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on the evening of Sunday, Sept. 16.

The play had already been performed twice in the capital city earlier this month, at Beijing National Theatre on Sept. 9 and at Century Lecture Hall of Peking University on Sept. 12.

Old Street showcases the rise and fall of the Majie Quyi Fair in Baofeng County, Henan Province over the past 700 years, by telling the story of a group of ill-fated folk artists, revealing their persistence in cultural inheritance and cultural confidence.

Quyi, or Chinese folk art, has many forms including ballad singing, story telling and cross talk.

According to Fan Jun, the leading actor who played the role of Quyi fair champion Qisuihong, the play extols the responsibility of Chinese folk artists to inherit their traditional culture in the face of historical transition and thus explores the vigorousness of the Majie Quyi Fair.

“Old Street is born and rooted in the blood of the Chinese nation," said Fan, “we are telling good Chinese stories and spreading excellent Chinese traditional culture with enthusiasm and strength. The Old Street is an old street with cultural confidence and cultural perseverance.”

Warm applause from audiences of more than 6,000 people demonstrated their affection for the legend of the folk art fair after the performance.

“I learned a lot from Old Street,” said Zhang Ruonan, a student from Beijing University of Chinese Medicine. “The wheels of history keep moving forward, but there are things that we should not forget. Our generation has the responsibility to protect traditional culture.”

“Old Street sets a good example for conserving endangered Chinese folk art,” said Zhao Liming, an expert on Women's Script and a professor at Tsinghua University. “Many folk arts, like Henan Zhuizi, is unfamiliar to most youngsters. Old Street has done well in protecting folk art with modern methods. ”

Old Street refers to Majie Village in Baofeng County. More than 600 acres of wheat fields in Majie Village nurtured the largest folk art fair in China, Majie Quyi Fair. Stone inscriptions in a Buddhist temple in the village show the gathering started during the early 14th century and flourished throughout the ensuing dynasties.

On Jan. 13 of the Chinese lunar calendar every year, thousands of folk artists from across the country gather in the village to demonstrate what they do best. Throughout the day, the village is filled with the sound of people singing, laughing and applauding.

Majie Quyi Fair was listed by the Overseas Chinese Affairs office of the State Council as one of the "top 10 folk customs of China" in 1996. In 2006, it was included in the first batch of national intangible cultural heritage list. In 2013, it was awarded the title of "worlds largest folk art fair" by the World Record Association.

Old Street is the second performance in a trilogy. The first session Old Soup has been performed in six provinces across China since its premiere in 2014 and has won unanimous praise from experts and audiences alike. The third addition to the trilogy, Old Home, is still in production, with the script to be completed in 2019.

“Tasting the old soup, walking on the old street, and being back in your old home - this might be the primitive dream of every Chinese descendant. Hometowns will have new initiatives in the future. We will live up to the expectations and keep going,” said Fan.

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(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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