...there is a general belief that China's performing arts suffered a twenty-five year setback as a result of the Cultural Revolution.The Cultural Revolution decade (1966-1976), now referred to by many as "the lost decade," left China in deep economic and social ruin. Still, the death of Mao Zedong and the fall of the Gang of Four gave a sense of liberation to many of the nation's per formers, artists, and writers.
Many Beijing opera performers forced into "retirement" during the Cultural Revolution returned to the stage after Mao's death. Many of these performers and musicians had practiced their art in secret during the Cultural Revolution, allowing them to retu rn to the theater fully prepared once the revolution ended. One father and son couple continued their acrobatic training while tending sheep, doing back-flips in the fields of rural China; in secret, a flute player silently practiced his 200-song repert oire as Red Soldiers patrolled outside his home. It was people like these, devoted to their art, who brought traditional Beijing opera back to China, and who trained the next generation of traditional opera performers. At the time, the rescue of traditi onal theater before old performers such as these died was identified by the new art and literature leaders as the most urgent task.
As China switches over to a capitalist society less dependent on agriculture and manual labor, its people have more leisure time, and therefore have more interest in entertainment. Yet competition from television programs and movies (from both China and abroad), as well as a general increase in the availability of leisure activities (such as bars and dance clubs),both observed by the author in 1994, have resulted in a steady decrease in Beijing opera attendance since the early 1980's. BIBLIOGRAPHY - BOOKSTORE-->