Kuo Hsiao-chuang's Setting Off Again

Chiu Kun-liang Director National Taiwan Institute of the Arts

In Taiwan's Peking opera circle of the 1970s and 80s, Kuo Hsiao-chuang was a personage who inherited from her predecessors and inspired those following her, and also one who created trends. When the man in the street talks about Peking opera he will naturally think of Kuo Hsiao-chuang and her Ya Yin Ensemble. The hands on education of the Ta Peng School of Opera and her open mind about the Peking opera stage, especially her opportunity of learning from Mr Yu Ta-kang, all these gave her greater opportunity than the usual Peking opera actor to come out of the stereotype of Peking opera and enter into the realm of performing arts.

From her earliest collaboration with the Yun Men Dance Ensemble to herself founding the Ya Yin Ensemble, Kuo Hsiao-chuang's stage pilgrimage has gone through various periods of experiences. But whatever the form or purpose of performance, her tenacity with Peking opera impresses people deeply, and is also most touching. In particular she independently set up the Ya Yin Ensemble, searched for scripts, tried the newest image, costume and stage designs, played the lead herself, and made Peking opera show brand new vitality. Every performance has become a major event in Taiwan arts circles. Besides attracting the conventional "old opera buffs", she has also won the applause of many many young people.

Kuo Hsiao-chuang on stage is a bright shining star. Kuo Hsiao-chuang off stage, on the other hand, never ceases learning and never ceases seeking improvement. After she graduated from Ta Peng School of Opera and the Chinese Opera Section of the Cultural University, she went overseas for further studies. Besides stage performances, the seeds of the art of Peking opera are also sown on every possible occasion. It is precisely because of this positive initiative that her artistic life has kept growing and has always given people expectations.

From the description in this book of the heart's pilgrimage of Kuo Hsiao-chuang's life of operatic performance, we see a performing artist's learning process, and also see where the charm and potential of the Peking opera art lies. I believe that this is a sort of Kuo Hsiao-chuang setting off again.