Wei Hai Min and Her Personae: Jingju in Our Time

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Wei Hai-min 魏海敏, The Drunken Beauty 貴妃醉酒

Thursday, October 12, 2023
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM
Royce Hall 314

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This talk starts with an introduction of Mei Lanfang, one of the greatest jingju artists. Drawing on various performance traditions, jingju was an operatic theatre developed in Beijing in the late 18th century. An all-male and total theatre incorporating music, dance, and acrobatics, it soon became widely popular and a favorite imperial entertainment. Mei re-invented jingju with his exquisite cross-gender impersonation of female roles from elegant ladies, patient wives, and graceful fairies to valiant warriors. His art and charisma won him global acclaim and influenced Bertolt Brecht’s “alienation effect.” A disciple of Mei Baojiu, Mei Lanfang’s son and heir, Wei Hai Min will demonstrate an aria from Mei’s masterpiece The Drunken Concubine. Wei will then speak on her career as not only an inheritor of a great tradition but also an innovator and a cross-cultural ambassador. Her interpretation of traditional and original titles features psychological depth and contemporary relevance. Among her most celebrated roles are Lady Aoshu, Medea, Cao Qiqiao, Cleopatra, Meng Xiaodong, and Virginia Woolf’s Orlando. She will demonstrate a speech and movement from The Kingdom of Desire (Macbeth) and an aria from Medea to show her creative approaches to characterization.

Wei Hai Min is universally considered to be the preeminent Chinese Opera actress and singer in the Sinophone world. Ms. Wei has won numerous awards and accolades, most notably the Plum Blossom Award, the highest honor for traditional Chinese theater in China, the National Award for Arts in Taiwan, the Global Chinese Culture Art Contribution Award, and the Outstanding Asian Artist Prize from the Society of Chinese American Culture and Arts. A household name and cultural ambassador, Ms. Wei is considered to be a national treasure and a major force in revolutionizing Chinese Opera globally.

Wei Hai Min travels to North America as a 2023 Asian Cultural Council Fellow.

Sponsor(s): Center for Chinese Studies, Asian Cultural Council Taiwan Foundation