Girls, wearing dresses made of cheese, posing in front of cars.
beauty comes in all shapes and sizes
Now that’s what I call…
(bad jokes aside, this really is a gorgeous photoset)
Please note that this is not a comprehensive list. I’m just listing performers I’m familiar with. If you think there’s something or someone that I’m missing, or something I got wrong, feel free to reblog and correct me. I am also not a professional critic. I’m just a fan.
I’m going to make a series of posts about the awesome ladies of Chinese Opera, due to the fact that they don’t get nearly enough press overseas, But first, I want to clear up some misunderstandings about Chinese Opera that we Westerners have sometimes.
1. Chinese Opera was never limited to only male actors. Peking Opera, the most popular Chinese Opera form, was limited to male actors from the reign of Emperor Qianlong to Emperor Guangxu. The ban only lasted for 100 years and was the exception, not the rule. Regional operas continued to allow female actors on stage, thus resulting in several generations’ worth of talented female actors defecting over to regional opera forms. However, female actors never received as much coverage as male actors, even after the ban on females on stage was lifted. They were often slotted into abridged plays or side roles, and if they were marketed, they were marketed as curiosities. In the time of the Four Great Dan, there were already female actors in Peking Opera. Mei Lanfang’s second wife used to be an actress, as well as his friend and mistress Meng Xiaodong.
2. Peking Opera (京剧) is only one of several operatic forms that exist in China. Many, many regional opera types exist, including Yuju Opera (豫剧) from Henan, Hebei Bangzi Opera (河北梆子) from Hebei, Jinju Opera (晋剧) from Shanxi, Qinqiang Opera (秦腔) from Shaanxi, Kunqu Opera (昆曲) from Zhejiang and Jiangsu, and Yueju Opera (越剧) from Shanghai. While lacking Peking Opera’s simple, elegant sophistication, regional operas are usually more emotional and contain more elaborate stage tricks.
3. Not all the roles in Chinese Opera wear Opera Masks. In fact they’re usually not masks—they’re face paint. In China, they’re called “lianpu” or “face patterns.” Or, they might be called “Hualian” or “painted face.” Usually, masks are only worn when the actor requires a gimmick like “bianlian” or “face changing.” Mostly, these painted patterns are worn by “Qing,” the role type that calls for the huskiest voice, or “Chou,” the clown role. Qing characters have a distinct rough edge, whether they are brave generals, sly courtiers, or wise judges. Cao Cao from Three Kingdoms was reputed to be a brutal, ruthless man, so he is played by a Qing. On the other hand, Bao Zheng, or Judge Bao, was physically intimidating and said to resemble the god of death, so he is also done by a Qing. Li Yuanba, a famed warrior of the Tang Dynasty, was said to be the mightiest hero of his time, so he is played by a Qing even though he is supposed to look physically unimpressive (his opera mask is modeled after a bird to show his wizened cheeks and pointy, beak-like mouth). A “Chou,” or clown character, exists for comic relief. They have goofy voices and goofy movements, and sometimes even break the 4th wall. Like the other character roles, they are divided into “wen” (civilian roles, which do not call for acrobatics) and “wu” (action roles, calling for lots of acrobatics and martial arts). Qing face masks usually cover the entire face, while Chou face masks are mostly white usually only cover the nose area.
Corollary: There are exceptions to the rule of face masks. An exceptionally ugly woman who is not meant to be comedic will be done by a “dan,” or female role actor, but still have a painted face like a Qing. This is called “Nu Hualian” or “female painted face,” and they sing with a “dan” voice. An ugly woman meant to be played for comedy will be done by a Chou, who paints their face to resemble a dan, but also paint on blemishes to signify ugliness. Such dan are called “chou dan” (ugly/clown woman) or “caidan” (colorful woman). They sing with the Chou voice. Characters also get face masks if their appearance is very distinctive, like Guan Yu from Romance of the Three Kingdoms has a red painted face, lines around the eyes to make them look narrow, and painted, thick eyebrows. Actors portraying animal characters are counted among the “distinctive appearance” category, so characters like the Monkey King or the demons he fights also get face masks. Since most of these animal characters are male, they sing with the “Laosheng” (middle aged man) voice.
4. Not all Chinese Operas are sung in falsetto. Peking Opera and Kunqu Opera are sung in falsetto, as are some other regional operas. However, several regional opera forms use a more natural voice.
5. Chinese Opera was not always a highly respected art form. Like all ancient forms of theater, it used to be pop culture. And, like actors elsewhere, opera actors, male and female, were only a step above prostitutes. Sometimes, the roles crossed over and actors of both sexes found themselves sleeping with high-paying customers for cash on the side. Though they enjoyed great popularity with the masses, in official laws, they were classified with social pariahs (prostitutes, hereditary slaves, beggars, policemen) and forbidden from having the same rights as freedmen. It was not until the origin of Peking Opera under Emperor Qianlong that opera became high art. Early Peking Opera was an elite art form that was viewed only by the Emperor and noblemen, which also contributed to women being banned from the stage because women were considered second class citizens who would pollute the stage.
6. Women can play men’s roles and men can play women’s roles. This does not count as drag. Because of the voices required, as long as the actor can get the pitch and movements right, it really doesn’t matter as to what role they’re playing. In fact, drag acting means a very different thing in Chinese Opera—it means that the actors are playing a role that they are not trained in, like a Dan playing a Chou, or a Qing playing a Dan. If a man is trained as a Dan and then plays a male role for a play, then he is considered to be in drag.
Next post will be Part I: The Gentlemen who were Ladies
totallynotliamyoucantproveit said: What REALLY caused the down fall of Rome?
Rome fell down some stairs and couldn’t call Life Alert.
Srulik (Israeli symbol) and Handala (Palestinian symbol).
Anthropomorphism which is the recognition of human-like characteristics or form in animals, plants or non-living things. This tree, which can be found in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, has roots which have taken a human-like form.
Either that, or the tree had secretly been absorbing people into itself over the course of years.
I discovered this Confederate general today.
His name is States Rights Gist.
HIS FIRST NAME IS STATES RIGHTS
GOD I LOVE HISTORY.
That has got to be the most Confederate name I have ever seen, and it proves that the Puritans didn’t have a monopoly in silly names.
Suit worn by the Swedish statesman and diplomat Axel von Fersen (1755-1810), c.1785.
Photo: Mats Landin, Nordiska museet
Can we celebrate Bastille Day here like they do in Philadelphia, where a Marie Antoinette impersonator pelts people with Tastykakes?
These are really pretty!
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