China is going to further its study on Nuo Drama, the endangered ancient performing arts, by holding the '98 Seminar on Asian Folk Theatres in the ancient city of Han Dan, Hebei province, Feb. 11-15, during the Lunar New Year's Fair.
Nuo Drama is a primitive cultural form, presently found only in some backward mountainous villages. It features masked dancing and singing, and implies that in remote antiquity, people gathered together costumed in ferocious masks and bear-skins, and waved weapons while dancing and roaring "Nuo Nuo", hoping the sound could expel the terrible demons and ghosts. This activity became a performing art afterwards, called Nuo Drama (or Nuo Opera). After thousands of years, most Nuo became extinct, with only a few surviving in some provinces like Hu Bei, An Hui, He Bei, Guizhuo and Shanxi, etc..
Han Dan City was the capital and cultural centre of Zhao Kingdom (154 B.C.). There are many historical sites around it, including the Temple of Nuwa (the creator-goddess who patched with stone blocks the holes in the sky), the site of primitive culture in Mountain CiShan, Mausoleum of King Lanling, and 1,700-year-ago murals in grottoes of XiangTang Temple, etc. In recent years, at the East side of Mountain TaiHang, a village which regularly throws huge traditional festivals for Chinese Lunar New Year's, has various activities, such as sacrificial rites, theatres, and traditional folk dances, etc. Among them, the most interesting folk performances include the vigorous Saixi (contest drama), mysterious Duixi (procession drama) and of course, the soul-stirring Nuo Opera Catching the Yellow Ghost, folk dances Running Fire Boat, Running Fire Horse, and a lantern festival calledNine Meanders of Yellow River. All of these are living materials for studying the history of folklore, anthropology, religion, and history of theatre.
Sponsored by China Arts Research Institute and China Nuo Drama Research Institute, this is the 4th seminar of its kind. Some international scholars who had participated in the previous seminars have again enrolled, and up-to-present, about 15 international scholars from Germany, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, Chinese Taipei, Chinese Hong Kong and Macau have promised to come. During the 5 day seminar, 3 days are scheduled for observation, and 2 days for discussion.
International scholars and enthusiasts are welcome. Those who would like to take part in the Seminar, please click on the e-mail address below. --By Wang Ling