Short-video sharing platforms help revive traditional Chinese operas

(People's Daily Online) 17:34, March 21, 2022

Short-video sharing platforms have helped create a craze for traditional Chinese operas, attracting an expanding audience and contributing to a revival of various opera forms.

Some opera performers have found new audiences on short-video sharing platforms such as Douyin.

Photo shows Chen Yu, a Yue Opera actress in east China’s Zhejiang Province, performing during an online live-streaming session. (Photo courtesy of Douyin)

Photo shows Chen Yu, a Yue Opera actress in east China’s Zhejiang Province, performing during an online live-streaming session. (Photo courtesy of Douyin)

Ren Siyuan, a Peking Opera actress at the Dalian Peking Opera Theatre in Dalian, northeast China’s Liaoning Province, is one of these performers. In May 2020, Ren began to launch live-streaming sessions on Douyin in order to present her performances to a fresh viewing audience, promote Peking Opera and popularize knowledge related to the artform, enabling viewers to better appreciate a gem of traditional Chinese culture.

To date, Ren has already accumulated some 190,000 followers on Douyin and her daily live-streaming sessions can now attract more than 30,000 viewers.

Ren pointed out that as a professional Peking Opera performer, she bears a responsibility to carry forward and rejuvenate the traditional Chinese artform. She is pleased that the live-streaming sessions have not only promoted Peking Opera and delighted many opera fans, but also provided a means to advertise the Dalian Peking Opera Theatre, letting more people have a chance to enjoy performances live in the theatre.

Ren said short videos and live-streaming sessions allow people to appreciate Peking Opera more conveniently, adding that it is wonderful that Peking Opera is now able to reach a wider audience.

Meanwhile, short-video sharing platforms have also created opportunities for opera troupes to overcome some of the difficulties caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Photo shows Ren Siyuan, a Peking Opera actress, gets ready for a live-streaming session. (Photo courtesy of Douyin)

Chen Yu is a performer with a private Yue Opera troupe in east China’s Zhejiang Province. Some of Chen’s colleagues underwent a career switch due to a dramatic drop in the number of offline performances after being hit hard by the pandemic, which would otherwise be a major source of income for the troupe. Chen, however, turned to live-streaming sessions on Douyin to continue with her performance career. With more than 200,000 followers on the platform, Chen is able to earn a decent income from her live-streaming sessions, which has come to far exceed her income from live in-theatre performances with the troupe.

Chen’s story is not unique. Statistics have shown that in 2021, live-stream opera performers hosted an average of 3,719 live-streaming sessions every day, with their income soaring by 232 percent year-on-year.

Zhang Yiwu, a professor at Peking University, pointed out that emerging media formats, such as short videos and live-streaming sessions, have been widely adopted to popularize cultural knowledge and spread traditional artforms, with the payments for high-quality online performances by online viewers being a way to show respect for the arts. More importantly, enabling opera performers to increase their incomes can assist with retaining more talents and motivate them to better pass on traditional Chinese operas, Zhang added.

(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)


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