Chinese Theatre Works offer a wide variety of short and long term residencies, workshops, lecture-performances, and seminars in Chinese opera and shadow theater, which we have present in schools, universities, museums and libraries around the city, nationally and internationally. Our master teaching artists conduct a range of Arts in Education programs, designed to introduce students and youth to Chinese culture and performance, with curriculum, visual materials and hands-on training that can be adjusted to any age set or skill level-- from pre-school to professional.
In Chinese opera all stage movement, even the simplest, is choreographed as a dance. The movement patterns are fluid, circular and bigger than life. This workshop introduces the wide range of gestures and postures that combine to build a character’s identity on stage. Participants will learn the basic vocabulary of traditional stage choreography as well as simple gestural and walking sequences.
In Chinese theater, the actors paint their faces to represent the inner qualities of the character they are playing. This workshop will introduce this unique language of color, and symbols that have been developed over centuries by Chinese Opera performers. The teaching artists will explain the visual language of face painting and also paint participants’ faces with a traditional designs and also lead them to create their own personal “Painted Faces.”
Costumes and props
On the Chinese Opera stage, elaborate costumes and props give the audience a detailed reading of a character’s social status and identity. Hand-held props, such as fans, ribbons, horsewhips and weapons also carry meaning. This workshop introduces some of these fascinating dancing objects and teaches participants how to “read” the stories inside the design of the embroidered silk clothes, hairdos and headdresses.
CTW puppet making workshops guide participants through the entire process of planning, designing, building a simple puppet figure or create a short puppet production. In the process, we teach a wide range of performance and building methods that will help participants develop their own ideas.
Performances by beautifully carved and colored animal-skin figures that are manipulated behind cloth screens is an ancient tradition in Asia. Chinese shadow performance (“Pi-Ying”) has a history of over 2000 years, portraying scenes from history, religion, literature and folktale. CTW teaching artists guide participants towards an understanding of this fascinating artform-- the root of all motion picture and broadcast media.
Overhead Projector shadow workshop
The ancient art form of shadow puppetry is rebooted for the current century, using overhead projectors to make large graphic moving images. Participants are guided through the process of making their own shadow figures out of transparencies, markers, paper, wire, fabric and gel and small found objects. For longer workshops, participants work together in teams to create their own short performance scenes.
The traditional style of Chinese glove puppets (“bu daixi”) are some of the liveliest stage performers and the simplest to learn. A truly hands-on learning experience in performing and making these delightful puppets.
Before people had laptops, VCRs or TVs, they often created their own home entertainments inside of simple cardboard model stages. CTW artists will guide participants to design, build and perform with simple flat figures.
CTW’s co-artistic directors, Kuang-Yu Fong and Stephen Kaplin, draw on their decades of of research and experience in creating cross-cultural performance to create dynamic introductions on a wide range of cultural topics. They explore the aesthetics, history and contemporary practice of Chinese theater, puppetry and CTW’s own 20 years of original work using using video, Powerpoint and actual performing objets (costumes, props and puppets).
World Shadow Lecture/demo
A lively, guided tour by shadow master and designer Stephen Kaplin demonstrates the basic principals of making moving images out of light and darkness. Examples of traditional and modern shadow figures from across the varieties of shadow traditions across Asia,