Author's Statement

Liu Tien-i

It was over 20 years ago, when the studio of China TV was all hustle and bustle, filming the serial drama "Eternal Fame". Princess Te-An was a great beauty projecting a pretty image. In particular her noble bearing made her stand out among the crowd. Mr Ma Sing-yeh, veteran journalist, and Mrs Ma who were invited together with us to view the filming, were most impressed with the female lead Kuo Hsiao-chuang. They took the initiative to recommend her to everybody. At that time she had begun to be popular in the Chinese opera field and had quite a reputation. But the young lady was poised and modest in attitude, and her acting natural and refined. Having watched her perform a few excerpts that night, people were left with a deep impression.

Afterwards, I had made use of vacations to conduct research in Taiwan several times, and I would invariably come across a performance by Ta Peng with Kuo Hsiao-chuang singing the lead. Later, she set up the Ya Yin Ensemble by herself, advocating for innovative reform of Chinese opera, combining the modern with the tradition. When I read this news abroad, I both admired her and worried for her. A frail female with a slender frame, she proved to be full of courage and confidence, shouldering resolutely the heavy burden of the responsibility of the times. This is indeed admirable. She had to counter the opera troupes of the army, navy and airforce all by herself, challenging them in public. This also made one anxious and concerned about her.

Ya Yin Ensemble's 18 years of difficult experience is in itself an attractive show. During thunder storms, Tou O was slandered and wrongly accused, but Kuo Hsiao-chuang was unperturbed and faced the crisis calmly. Overnight her wisdom had grown a hundred fold. By the time it was all gentle breeze and bright moonlight, Ya Yin rose to become the symbol of new culture in Taiwan. Treading along this path, Kuo Hsiao-chuang's devout dedication and nurturing with her own heart's blood had finally borne extremely beautiful fruit.

For writing this book I had made countless times of communications with Kuo Hsiao-chuang. In the main, I had to collate the new horizons for Chinese opera created by her and Ya Yin, and the new contributions she and Ya Yin made to Chinese opera, and to make comprehensive records. At the same time, Ya Yin as a trend setter has created new waves of thinking in Chinese opera, and has brought about influences on reform of Peking opera on both shores of the Strait. I have expounded this in a special chapter. Originally, I had read an article in a drama newspaper in Peking discussing Kuo Hsiao-chuang's influence on modern Peking opera. By the time I was writing this book, because materials had piled up on my desk, I could not find it however hard I tried. So I had to quote it from memory incompletely. Not being able to quote the original is a great pity.

Another important part of the book is a full record of Kuo Hsiao-chuang's industry in study, striving for higher things, persisting with ideals and not falling into vulgarism. This can be a very good example for young students with aspirations. Coming out from Ta Peng School of Drama, she had gone through proper training and become a famous star. But she herself felt inadequate. So she followed Professor Yu Ta-kang for further studies, striving for higher studies at the University of Chinese Culture. On graduation, she had elevated the level of her performance and taught at tertiary institution. Among Chinese opera actors she was already unique. But still she felt inadequate and went to the USA for further study at the Juilliard School of Music. She was set on marrying Western acting with the art of Chinese Peking opera.

At the Juilliard she opted for mime performance, studying with diligence from Chaplin to Marcel Marceau. Still feeling inadequate, she specialized in drama theory, studying Stanislavsky thoroughly, then looked back to apply it on Ya Yin's performances. Only then did she feel contented, that she had matured and had bettered herself. Seeing this quest for knowledge and striving for excellence in her is really moving. It can really serve as a paragon for the young. Always "feeling inadequate", this has been the driving force for Kuo Hsiao-chuang's study, innovation and advancement.

Having spent 10 months on the book, I have only just felt relieved and at ease, Kuo Hsiao-chuang then came pressing me again ceaselessly for a preface. This book is to be released together with the videos of 4 Ya Yin operas. To Kuo Hsiao-chuang, this is a very meaningful grand occasion. To the community, it leaves behind a page of innovative culture. This calls for celebration! This calls for well wishing!