Revitalizing Intangible Cultural Heritage: Four Generations of Artists Spread and Revitalize Shandong Kuaishu

From:chinakongzi.orgAuthor: 2022-07-15 15:45

  ​Shandong Kuaishu, also known as “bamboo clapper Kuaishu” is a quyi (traditional folk art)form that originated in the southwest of Shandong in the Ming Dynasty. It emphasizes a conversational style of singing, featuring strong rhythms, exaggerated expressions and rich images. Shandong Kuaishu can be performed at any time in any place. It is a quick reflection of reality with a unique artistic effect. In 2006, it was included in the first list of state-level intangible cultural heritage items.

  68-year-old Luo Guangxing is the third-generation head of Yang’s school of Shandong Kuaishu and an inheritor of Yu’s school of Shandong Kuaishu. After retirement, he founded Guangxing Kuaishu Theatre named after himself in Jinan, kicking off his spreading and revitalization of the traditional Shandong art.


  Mr. Luo knows the quyi culture like the back of his hand

  Luo Guangxing has studied traditional quyi from the famous Pingshu artist Jin Wensheng since young. Speaking of Kuaishu culture, Mr. Luo gushed over it with great passion. “Different from Pingshu, Shandong Kuaishu emphasizes the importance of keeping pace with the clapper. It sounds exciting and attracts your attention”. He was so excited to talk about the art that he performed a session straight away, and his great energy belied his old age. According to him, Shandong Kuaishu uses exaggerated body language to describe vivid scenes. During the performance, performers must be their roles quickly and be naturally “on and off”the roles, which requires excellent skills developed through massive practice. Mr. Luo has taught nearly 100 students, but “few can perform on the stage”.


  Mr. Luo is performing Shandong Kuaishu Havoc in Majiadian

  Since retirement, Guangxing Kuaishu Theatre has become Mr. Luo’s stage and one of the few places hosting quyi performances in Jinan. Mr. Luo meets his friends, performs Kuaishu and teaches students here. All old artists performing as guests are Luo Guangxing’s friends. They are all in their 70s or 80s, with the eldest being 84 years old. Mr. Luo is also fostering inheritors, including his daughter and grandchildren. The generations stick to inheriting the art in the theatre.


  Mr. Luo’s granddaughter Wang Xiyue is performing Hatred in My Heart Sprouts a Hundredfold, an excerpt from the Peking Opera The Red Lantern


  Mr. Luo’s grandson Wang Qiru is performing Shandong Kuaishu Vegetables

  Last year, 50 public benefit performances were hosted in the theatre, while Mr. Luo’s effort continues. “Many children don’t know quyi, not to mention whether they like it or not.”To pass down the art, you have to expose them to quyi, make them understand Kuaishu, develop their interest in it and encourage them to stick to the practice. “Shandong Kuaishu is in danger of being lost, so we must preserve the tradition before integrating it with modernity”. To promote and pass down the intangible cultural heritage in quyi art forms, Luo Guangxing and his team have set up an inheritance practice base. They spread quyi to the campus, organize public benefit lectures and compose new Shandong Kuaishu stories reflecting the reality, such as anti-epidemic and anti-fraud stories. They have also produced their first life-based sitcom, Today I Am Somebody, where they tell new stories in the traditional art form. In this way, they are dedicated to spreading to millions of households the quyi art form that passes from mouth to mouth and revitalizing the intangible cultural heritage in the prosperous times.


  Still of the life-based sitcomToday I Am Somebody


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