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Ningbo Pinghua (Popular Stories)
Updated:2018-04-28 14:46:00
Ningbo Pinghua, also known as Wushu among the general public, is different from Siming Nanci. Pinghua is a singing and story-telling art form among the Hans of Ningbo. Pinghua is performed by professionals and amateurs that include Nanci performers and Zoushu performers known as Danpai. It is said that Ningbo Pinghua was prevalent in the Song and Yuan Dynasties when history-telling and story-telling were common practices mainly in teahouses and story-telling houses of downtown Ningbo, Yin County and Cixi County.
When telling a story and performing different roles, tellers resort to no more than a piece of wood, a foldable fan and a mouth without any music or accompaniment. Their stories are so vivid and lively that the audience abandons itself in the little world. With only an attention-catching block and a fan in place, performers can talk volubly with what their supreme speaking skills have to offer. One story-teller can play several and even a dozen roles, producing no one but the very character they intend to play with accurate figure, personality and way of speaking. The fan in his hand is likened to either a sword or a pen, while the block serves both as a way of quieting the scene and producing intended effect in telling a story. Traditional books include Outlaws of the Marsh, the Romance of Three Kingdoms and the Legend of Yue Fei, among others.
Ningbo Pinghua, mainly performed in teahouses and story-telling houses in downtown areas, is prevalent in coastal cities of east Zhejiang. During the reigning period of Emperor Dao Guang in the Qing Dynasty, Pinghua performers in Ningbo had tens of sites for performances. The practice showed no signs of abating in the Republic of China preiod, producing famous tellers including Zhang Ailin, Chuang Caizhang, among others. In particular, Outlaws of the Marsh told by Zhang Ailin, Zhang Yice and Zhang Shaoce enjoyed enormous reputation with its diversified and distinctive content thanks to repeated adaptations and upgrading by several generations.


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