State Administrative Council Instructions Concerning Xiqu Reform Work

Posted on Updated on

The people’s xiqu is an important weapon with democratic spirit and patriotic spirit to educate the broad people. Our country’s xiqu heritage is extremely rich, and has a close connection with the People, inheriting this sort of heritage and enhancing, is fully necessary. But in this sort of heritage, many parts have been used by feudal rulers as a tool to drug and poison the people; therefore, we must differentiate well good and bad, and select them, and on a new basis, transform and develop them, only then is it possible that they conform to the interest of State and people.


Since more than one year, xiqu reform work in all localities has already achieved clear results. New xiqu has already emerged in large quantities, and has received the welcome from the broad masses; many performers have learned new knowledge and new points of view, becoming backbones for xiqu reform activities. But some weak spots still exist in work, the most important one is that examination and approval of plays still lacks uniform standards, and that in revising script work, there are still a few revisionist and formulist tendencies. The Central People’s Government Ministry of Culture’s nationwide xiqu work meeting held in November 1950, thoroughly discussed the situation of xiqu reform work in all localities, and put forward the policies for work from now on. The Administrative Council, after hearing the Ministry of Culture’s report of this meeting, hereby makes the following instructions:

I, Xiqu shall have carrying on the new patriotic spirit of the people, and encouraging the people’s heroism in revolutionary struggle and productive labour first. All xiqu propagating resistance to invasion, resistance to oppression, love for the motherland, love for freedom, love for labour, commending the People’s righteousness and their decent disposition shall be encouraged and popularized, conversely, all xiqu preaching feudal or slave morals, preaching savagery and terror, or obscene, wanton or drug activities, uglifying and humiliating the labouring people shall be opposed. All localities culture and education organs must according to the above standards, be responsible to conduct examination of staged plays, shall not let matters slide, but shall adopt vigorous reform policies. The main localities conducting reform shall rely on the cooperative work of the broad performers, rely on them to jointly examine and approve, revise and compose scripts, and rely on newspapers and periodicals to suitably engage in xiqu critique, standard localities shall not rely on administrative orders and the method of prohibiting plays. Were bans must be imposed against xiqu gravely harming the people, the Central Ministry of Culture will deal with this uniformly, all localities may not ban plays without authorization.

II, At present, xiqu reform work shall put the main effort into examine and approve the most broadly spread old programmes, necessary and suitable revision will be conducted over plays among those with harmful content or harmful performance methods. We must abolish ideological content with important harm, and where performance methods are concerned, delete all sorts of components that are savage, horrible, uncivilized, enslaving, insulting to the own ethnicity and anti-patriotic. Good old or revised plays shall act as affirmation for ethnic traditional plays, and all healthy, progressive and beautiful elements in them will be continuously carried on. When revising old scripts, attention shall be paid not to violate historical truth and the results of the people’s education.

Xiqu reform is a serious task in reforming the old society’s cultural undertakings, and it is unavoidable that many complex problems will be encountered, therefore, xiqu reform work must be conducted gradually. Generally speaking, we shall start from the scope that is the easiest to start with and the easiest to obtain the agreement from the majority of performers, and then progressively extend it. We must prevent rash emotions in xiqu reform work, and the crude methods coming from this.

III, Chinese xiqu varieties are extremely plentiful, and must be used, reformed and developed generally, the free competition of all sorts of xiqu forms must be encouraged, facilitating “Letting a Hundred Flowers Bloom” in xiqu art. Local operas, and especially folk operettas, have relatively simple and vivacious forms, which easily reflect modern life, and are also easily accepted by the masses, they must be given especially high regard. From now on, all local xiqu improvement work shall take the drama type that has the most influence on the local masses as the main target for reform and development. To this end, we shall extensively collect, annotate, print and publish new and old scripts for local operas and folk operettas, as provision for research and improvement. Under feasible circumstances, every year, we shall organize a nationwide xiqu competition and public performance once, to exhibit the improvement achievements of all drama types, award excellent works and performances, in order to guide its development.

Chinese quyi forms, such as the drum ballad, storytelling, etc., are simple and also rich in power of expression, extremely convenient to speedily reflect implementation, and must be given high regard. Apart from having to create large amounts of new quyi texts, we shall also reform for our own use many songbooks with historical stories and excellent folk legends that the people know well.

IV, Xiqu performers bear a great responsibility in the undertaking of entertaining and educating the people, they shall strengthen study concerning politics, culture and profession, and raise themselves. All localities’ culture and education organs shall earnestly organize performers’ education and pay attention to foster cadres for xiqu reform work from the performers. In the countryside, where mobile professional old theatre troupes and groups cannot train in a concentrated manner, it is permitted to send xiqu reform work cadres to all groups and troupes  in turn to conduct education, and according to feasibility and requirement assist their rehearsal of new plays.

New culture and art workers shall vigorously participate in xiqu reform work, mutually learn from xiqu performers, closely cooperate with them, jointly reform and compose scripts, improve xiqu music and stage art.

V, Some unreasonable systems in old theatre troupes, such as  the old apprentice system, the adopted daughter system, the “manager-agent” system, etc., gravely harm human rights and the well-being of performers, and shall gradually be reformed, this sort of reform must mainly rely on the awareness and voluntarism of performing masses.

VI, Xiqu work shall be uniformly led by all localities’ culture and education controlling authorities. All provincial cities shall take old opera troupes and theatres with relatively good traditions as basis, and under the principle of commercialization, adopt methods of public operation, public-private joint operation, or private operation with public assistance to establish model opera troupes and theatres, performing new place in a planned and regular way, improve theatre management, to act as a stronghold for moving forward local xiqu reform work.

Premier Zhou Enlai

5 May 1951

政务院关于戏曲改革工作的指示

(一九五一年五月五日)

人民戏曲是以民主精神与爱国精神教育广大人民的重要武器。我国戏曲遗产极为丰富,和人民有密切的联系,继承这种遗产,加以发扬光大,是十分必要的。但这种遗产中许多部分曾被封建统治者用作麻醉毒害人民的工具,因此必须分别好坏加以取舍,并在新的基础上加以改造、发展,才能符合国家与人民的利益。

一年多以来,各地戏曲改革工作已获得显著成绩。新戏曲已大量出现,并受到了广大群众的欢迎;许多艺人学得了新的知识与新的观点,成为戏曲改革运动的骨干。但在工作中亦存在若干缺点,最主要的是审定剧目缺乏统一标准,与编改剧本工作中还有某些反历史主义的、公式主义的倾向。中央人民政府文化部在一九五O年十一月所召集的全国戏曲工作会议,检讨了各地戏曲改革工作的情况,并提出了今后工作的方针。政务院在听取文化部关于这一会议的报告以后,特作如下指示:

一、戏曲应以发扬人民新的爱国主义精神,鼓舞人民在革命斗争与生产劳动中的英雄主义为首要任务。凡宣传反抗侵略、反抗压迫、爱祖国、爱自由、爱劳动、表扬人民正义及其善良性格的戏曲应予以鼓励和推广,反之,凡鼓吹封建奴隶道德、鼓吹野蛮恐怖或猥亵淫毒行为、丑化与侮辱劳动人民的戏曲应加以反对。各地文教机关必须根据上述标准对上演剧目负责进行审查,不应放任自流,而应采取积极改革的方针。进行改革主要地应当依靠广大艺人的通力合作,依靠他们共同审定、修改与编写剧本,并依靠报纸刊物适当地展开戏曲批评,一般地不应当依靠行政命令与禁演的办法。对人民有重要毒害的戏曲必须禁演者,应由中央文化部统一处理,各地不得擅自禁演。

二、目前戏曲改革工作应以主要力量审定流行最广的旧有剧目,对其中的不良内容和不良表演方法进行必要的和适当的修改。必须革除有重要毒害的思想内容,井应在表演方法上,删除各种野蛮的、恐怖的、猖亵的、奴化的、侮辱自己民族的、反爱国主义的成份。对旧有的或经过修改的好的剧目,应作为民族传统的剧目加以肯定,并继续发扬其中一切健康、进步、美丽的因素。在修改旧有剧本时,应注意不违背历史的真实与对人民的教育的效果。

戏曲改革是改革旧有社会文化事业中的一项严重任务,不可避免地将要遭遇许多复杂的问题,因此,戏曲改革工作必须有步骤地进行。一般地说,应当由最容易着手和最容易获得多数艺人同意的范围开始,然后逐步推广。必须防止在戏曲改革工作上的急躁情绪,和由此而来的粗暴手段。

三、中国戏曲种类极为丰富,应普遍地加以采用、改造与发展,鼓励各种戏曲形式的自由竞赛,促成戏曲艺术的“百花齐放”。地方戏尤其是民间小戏,形式较简单活泼,容易反映现代生活,并且也容易为群众接受,应特别加以重视。今后各地戏曲改进工作应以对当地群众影响最大的剧种为主要改革与发展对象。为此,应广泛搜集,记录、刊行地方戏、民间小欢的新旧剧本,以供研究改进。在可能条件下,每年应举行全国戏曲竞赛公演一次,展览各剧种改进成绩,奖励其优秀作品与演出,以指导其发展。

中国曲艺形式,如大鼓、说书等,简单而又富于表现力,极便于迅速反映现实,应当予以重视。除应大量创作曲艺新词外,对许多为人民所熟悉的历史故事与优美的民间传说的唱本,亦应加以改造采用。

四、戏曲艺人在娱乐与教育人民的事业上负有重大责任,应在政治、文化及业务上加强学习,提高自己。各地文教机关应认真地举办艺人教育并注意从艺人中培养戏曲改革工作的干部。农村中流动的职业旧戏班社,不能集中训练者,可派戏曲改革工作干部至各班社轮流进行教育,并按照可能与需要帮助其排演新剧目。

新文艺工作者应积极参加戏曲改革的工作,与戏曲艺人互相学习、密切合作,共同修改与编写剧本、改进戏曲音乐与舞台艺术。

五、旧戏班社中的某些不合理制度,如旧徒弟制、养女制、“经励科”制度等,严重地侵害人权与艺人福利,应有步骤地加以改革,这种改革必须主要依靠艺人群众的自觉自愿。

六、戏曲工作应统一由各地文教主管机关领导。各省市应以条件较好的旧有剧团、剧场为基础,在企业化的原则下,采取公营、公私合营或私营公助的方式,建立示范性的剧团、剧场,有计划地、经常地演出新剧目,改进剧场管理,作为推进当地戏曲改革工作的据点。

总理周恩来

一九五一年五月五日

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s