Sichuan show at a teahouse in Chengdu

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Sichuan show at a teahouse in Chengdu

We hadn’t booked to see the cultural show in Chengdu but as we walked back from Shu Feng Ya Yun, the Tea House where the performance had taken place we were very glad that we had take our guide Ken’s advice. We had already seen two performances whilst in China – the first was a disappointment (the Peking Opera in Beijing), while the other had been a hit (The Tang Dynasty show in Xian). The show is described as Opera and this almost put us off but Ken explained the things we would see, for example the famous mask changing, a comedy of husband and wife and the fire breathing so we decided to pay the 260 Yuan each (£26 GBP, £130 in total for all 5).

Gachu Player at the Chengdu teahouseThe venue for the show is in an old tea house but is layer out like a regular theatre with the exception that there is a small table in front of each set of 4 people to hold tea which is constantly refilled throughout the performance.

As you come into the theatre the cast are adding their make up in an open area to the right so you can catch a quick preview of the players.

The shows started with classic Chinese Opera and we thought we were in for a tortuous night. Sechuan opera however is more tuneful that its Peking counterpart although it has the sane sense of over-dramatisation.

However after this followed some truly amazing acts. Our favourites were:

  • the player of the classic 2 string violin who played a wonderfully moving piece based on a Chinese version of the Romeo and Juliette story.
  • the stick puppet where the puppeteer stands beneath the puppet working every aspect of the puppet. In this case the puppet could not only dance but even twirled a hankie on it’s finger!
  • the shadow display where the performer uses only his hands to create images of animals and birds on a white illuminated screen. The range of animals and the accuracy of the portrayal was incredible an included rabbits, swans, a cat, horse, monkey, birds etc.
  • A slightly quirky performance of a Chinese reed trumpet. The skill if the player was obvious but the tune a little off beam for us. However what made this reach our favourite list was the comedy way in which the player made similar sounds without the instrument at all!
  • mask changing at the Chengdu teahouseand of course the mask changing and fire breathing. According to Ken, even David Copperfield was amazed to see this in action. Initially the person stats say in a blue outfit, a sweep if the flag in front of them and it has changed to red. Similarly later on the colourful masks start to change at just as rapid pace. It really was incredible. At one point some of the players came down into the audience. I was sitting behind one of them and even without the flourish, but I still couldn’t work it out.
  • Very glad we changed are minds on this – very worthwhile