Torch Troupes (火把剧团)
Torch Troupes 火把剧团
Directed by Xu Xin, 2007 (110 min)
“Torch Troupes” got their name during the Cultural Revolution, when traditional Sichuan Opera was prohibited in public and troupes could only tour remote rural areas, performing underground at night by torchlight. Today, the Opera struggles under different, yet just a difficult, conditions of survival.
In 2001, six national Sichuan Opera companies were integrated into one that rarely performs. Smaller local troupes were dismissed. Today, the informal show troupes created by Sichuan Opera actors dismissed by national companies in 1990s have become the new struggling “torch troupes.” Three or four of them continue to perform in tea houses scattered in the old neighborhoods of Chengdu. A three-hour performance of a dozen actors attracts an audience of no more than 100 elderly persons, each paying three yuan, part of which goes to the teahouse. With their ageing audience and teahouse venues disappearing, some actors switch to “dance shows” or turn to running small businesses. Master of Sichuan Opera, Li Baoting began his career at eight but now mingles with showgirls in popular and cheap bars. On the other hand, actor Wang Bin refuses to give up, going on with his troupe in a temporary stand in this big city where everybody seems to be in a rush. Between the acts, Wang Bin sits silently backstage…
“火把剧团”的称呼来自于文革期间，当时传统的川剧剧目在公共演出场所被禁，但偏远的农村却在私下演出，因常在夜间，需用火把照明，渐渐有此称呼。现在的 “ 火把剧团”就是在20世纪90年代后，在国营川剧团渐至解散、演员下岗后自行组建的民间演出组织。它的产生、发展和消亡都与时代息息相关。成都还有三四个 “火把剧团”，一般都在老居民区里的茶馆里演出。王斌，一个坚持以川剧表演为生的人，不得不面临被社会淘汰的命运。老茶馆终于被拆，每天演出的舞台从此消 失。数月后，王斌在成都市雕塑公园内一个临时搭建的大蓬里继续表演川剧。李保亭，从八岁就开始学唱川剧的老把式，如今只能告别川剧舞台，改行表演歌舞。
REEL China Documentaries: Documentaries on issues in contemporary China by Chinese filmmakers and directors