November 11th was the 28th day of the ninth lunar month which marked the birthday of Master Huaguang, the founder of Cantonese opera. According to the traditional customs of Cantonese opera guilds, a grand procession was organized to carry the statue of Master Huaguang for a celebratory parade. This celebrating activity for Huaguang's birthday had been suspended for 70 years until its revival in 2015 in the Liwan District, Guangzhou City. On November 11th, Liwan District also welcomed the 9th Procession and Performance for the Birth of Cantonese Opera Huaguang.
Around 9:00 in the morning, performing actors of Cantonese theatrical martial arts from Luanyu Tang (a place for Cantonese theatrical martial arts training) in various places gathered together, each taking their respective positions. As the sound of gongs and drums filled the air, a procession consisting of rectangular wooden signs, colorful flags, and a variety of traditional weapons began, while the performance team escorted Master Huaguang on his parade. Master Huaguang was carried on a dedicated palanquin, lifted by esteemed martial arts masters from the Luanyu Tang, and proceeded out of Yongqing Fang, Liwan District.
Among the procession, one could find the presence of renowned Cantonese opera master and permanent honorary chairman of the Guangdong Luanyu Tang, Ye Zhaobai, who was directing the orderly progress of the procession by the members of the Luanyu Tang. As Ye mentioned, "I'm getting older, so this time I'll let the younger generation carry Master Huaguang while I assist on the side. Just being able to witness it is enough for me."
The 87-year-old man once personally witnessed the building of the Luanyu Tang. "In 1947, more than 300 people, including myself, each contributed four bags of rice to collectively purchase the site for the Luanyu Tang, located in the second alley of Yongqing Fang. The Luanyu Tang has witnessed the transformation of Yongqing Fang and the flourishing of Cantonese opera at the Art Museum of Guangdong Cantonese Opera."
The one who was responsible for escorting Master Huaguang was Xie Yunhong from Xintang Town in Zengcheng District, Guangzhou City. He is one of the last disciples accepted by the Cantonese opera master Luo Pinchao in his nineties. In Xie Yunhong's memory, Master Luo was a generous and highly skilled artist.
Recalling the process of meeting and becoming Master Luo's disciple, Xie Yunhong still remembered, "In 2001, I had the opportunity to meet Master Luo Pinchao through recommendation. Since then, whenever I had a Cantonese opera performance in Xintang Town, I would make a DVD for him to watch. In 2008, following the advice of other teachers, Master Luo Pinchao immediately agreed to formally accept me as his disciple, even though I was already 64 years old at the time."
Over the years, Xie always remembered the advice of his senior male fellow apprentice, the renowned Cantonese opera and comedic artist Huang Junying. "He urged me to learn the essence of Cantonese opera performance from Master Luo Pinchao and promote Cantonese opera."
Today, Xie serves as the head of the training base of Luo School for the Cantonese Opera, one of the intangible cultural heritage projects in Zengcheng District. The man regularly stages Cantonese opera performances and has brought Cantonese opera to schools multiple times, passing on the art of the Luo School Cantonese opera to the new generation.
During the procession, the statue of Master Huaguang arrived at Jingsheng Square in Yongqing Fang. The performance team placed Master Huaguang on a bus, which then traveled a distance to reach the Guangzhou Cultural Park. With lion dances in motion, the statue of Master Huaguang was carried on a parade within the park. Following the procession, a splendid display of martial arts and Cantonese opera performances commenced on the central stage of the cultural park.
Performers from the Guangdong Yueju Opera Theater, the Inheritance Base for Juniors at the Art Museum of Guangdong Cantonese Opera, and the Guangdong Luanyu Tang, among others, took turns showcasing their swordplay, water-sleeve dancing, spear manipulation, horsewhip performance and more, delighting the residents and audience members alike.
文｜记者 马思泳 通讯员 荔宣
责编 | 王楠
校对 | 赵丹丹