The Society collects together all those with experience performing, and/or interest in learning, the Chinese operatic genres of Jingju (Peking Opera) and Kunqu (Kun Opera). We will be participants in London concerts and aim to provide vocal, movement and instrumental training for SOAS students who wish to learn these traditional art forms.
We inherited the mantel of the now inactive London Jingkun Opera Society and members have been active in performing both genres of Opera around London in the last few years, performing at events such as a Beijing and Kunqu Opera Gala at the Rudolf Steiner Theatre, for Chinese events at the V&A, or for a gig for an audience that included the likes of Kate Moss, Stephen Fry, the Duke of York, Tony Blair, and Tom Jones (not necessarily in that order!).
We are regularly involved in the British Museum Chinese New Year events (including interviews on Chinese TV), have run symposia (such as one on Mei Lanfang In 2015-6), several qingchanghui concerts, occasionally host other types of event at SOAS (including a visit in November 2015 by the 70-strong No.1 Beijing Opera Troupe!), and have been able to provide an unprecedented number of Saturday workshops to SOAS students.
In September 2019, Jingju and Kunqu Opera teaching and learning in the UK (which the SOAS SU has long supported) was the subject of an award-winning video. The China People’s Daily ‘My China’-themed Global Short Video Contest saw over 430,000 entries from over 60 countries. The video titled ‘I Teach Chinese Opera in the UK_Links to Chinese Opera’ (by the University of Sussex MA Film graduate, Yi Shucen) was among the 15 Third Prize winners. Her story centred on the teaching and learning that was seeded in our Xiqu classes!
We organize workshops on most Saturdays during term times (part-subsidized for SOAS students). On occasion this has meant four separate courses running on a single Saturday (a Beijing opera course from 10-11.30; jingju movement workshop from 11.30 to 1pm; kunqu singing dan-role workshop from 2-4pm; and laosheng role workshop from 4-6!). In addition we have organized make-up workshops, dizi flute workshops for kunqu opera, staged qingchanghui concerts for learners and advanced practitioners alike. The success of these activities can be gauged from the audience created – with member demand such that an additional Chinese Opera course is periodically appended to the SOAS Summer Music School.
Going from strength to strength, we hope to organize yet more good quality regular professional training next year for SOAS students, expand the equipment available to learners, expand our network of contacts, particularly with Confucius Institutes across London, and also host other types of event at SOAS.