Figures for actions initially cut out from paper. The paper was too thin, so the doll was fragile and needed to impart durability. To do this, from tanned sheep, horse or donkey leather cut the same figure, which was held together with paper. Because the material for most of the dolls served donkey skin, people, shadow theatre called “theatre of dolls of donkey skin”. The technique of cutting out figures were inspired from the folk art of paper cutting. The figures turned as if alive. Doll height was 30 inches, but some reach 70 centimeters. Figures were made movable and consisted of several interconnected parts.
“Scene” shadow theater was the screen is a rectangular wooden frame in a window, covered with a white cloth, behind which the actors sang and ran the figures-characters with the help of bamboo sticks. The screen was directed rays of light, and the audience saw not the figures, and the shadows from them.
Exciting plot, closely associated with the local folk songs, bizarre movements of puppet characters to the accompaniment of traditional music, singing actor immerse the viewer in a world of fantasy.
Chinese shadow theater, as well as the puppet theatre, had regional characteristics. Varied forms of the figures, the manner of execution. For example, the shadow theater of southern Liaoning differed very little screen only 6-7 inches. The scene of Hebei theater of shadows in the diameter reached one meter; the Palace theatre of shadows has been particularly delicate job and was incredibly expensive.
Characters of the shadow theater from different locations also differed from each other. For example, the helmet the figures can be removed only in the Sichuan shadow theater; a very peculiar faces of the characters in Peking shadow theatre. And yet, depending on, in the era of the dynasty which originated the theater, figures of characters in the Chinese shadow theatre differ headdresses and jewelry, outfits and facial features. But they all had one thing in common: the delicacy and fineness of execution. The basics of the performances of the shadow theatre was usually taken from popular novels, tales, musical tales, legends, stories that were interesting and understandable to the Chinese audience, especially the peasants.
Shadow theatre appeared in the era of the Tang dynasty, it formed the Five dynasties (907-960). During the song dynasty (960-1279), it reached its full flowering and spread throughout China. In China, as in Europe, were very popular farcical skits, making fun of politicians and officials. Formed, a satirical dialogue between two characters, accompanied by dance moves. The most first troupe consisted of 2-3 persons, a more meaningful usually showed a troupe of 6-7 people. Large troupe included more than a dozen actors.
The earliest dolls were wooden, only the hands and feet were fastened and move freely. Then there were a combination of dolls, which could move arms, legs, the head and the torso. Constantly improved technology. As elsewhere in the world, Chinese dolls are driven with the help of thread. First, the dolls were 3 threads, but gradually each began to attach for 16 threads, the maximum number reached 30. The more threads, the more it can do movements! Puppet shows such control system is mainly distributed in the provinces of Shaanxi, Fujian, Zhejiang, Shandong, Jiangsu, Guangdong and Hunan. Except those who are actuated with the aid of a connecting thread, appeared glove, kinds and other dolls.
Glove doll was set in motion by the fingers of the hand that gave them the name. Typically, these dolls have only the head, brightly painted happy or angry face, but the hand of the puppeteer is hidden in the folds of a cloth bag. Submitting with these dolls are very common in the provinces of Hebei, Henan, Hubei, Sichuan, Hunan and Fujian. Dolls, simply attached to one end of the stick, called the “kinds of dolls”. They are popular in the provinces of Heilongjiang, Liaoning and in Beijing and Shanghai. In the hands of the actor, hidden from the eyes of the audience, usually on two canes with attached dolls that the music they sing, chant, talk and perform different movements. Performances are created based on folktales and legends, such as the fabulous monkey sun Wukong by stratagem took a magic fan as a bold lei Wanchun fought with a predatory tiger, etc.
Theatre of the yuan era
The emergence of professional drama and theatre associated with the Yuan era (1234-1368). Along with the ancient Greek and Indian traditional theatre of China among the “top three” of the ancient world theatrical culture. Its main scenic means of expression of the plot of the play through song and dance.
China was conquered by Mongols, which the dramatic art had to taste. And for the Chinese, it was the only opportunity for the veiled expression of his attitude to the events in the country. Therefore, a significant part of the plays were written on historical topics.
In the centuries there is a new kind of representations czuczai. In the comedic improvised scenes new characters, formalized the new role. At the same time and in the South are large popular drama nanxi. Known with the name of the drama is “About a woman named Zhao”, “Zhang Xie, who passed the Metropolitan exams the first”, etc. Representation these dramas were given in the booths it was fenced, covered with a canopy platform. The audience sat on benches, the stage was on one level with a hall and separated from it by railings.
The farce was called Lantz. To the centuries, is flourishing drama czuczai. The originality of the theatrical art of China was based on the combination of speech and vocals, music, dance, acrobatics. The music was chosen by the playwright from the traditional Chinese melodies they moved from one performance to another. The playwright also gave advice on interpretation of the plays. The most important scene played out in slow rhythm, with a lot of small details. The performances were presented on a bare stage, giving the opportunity of free movement actors in time and in space. About these changes the actor verbally informed the audience.