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Opera actors take life as it comes

By Liu Xiangrui in Chengdu | China Daily | Updated: 2013-07-24 11:05
Opera actors take life as it comes

Troupe members apply makeup before a performance. Photos by Liu Xiangrui / China Daily

The troupe members lead a simple life. In Qingquan town, where the circumstances are relatively better, the actors share a courtyard house with several other households.

Yan Laowu, his wife and 7-year-old son have converted one corner of the backstage into their bedroom. Household items and opera props share their bed.

"The condition is much better now. I used to sleep in the open stage and use a piece of plastic to stay warm during winter days," says 40-year-old Yan, who is bubbly and talkative.

Opera actors take life as it comes
Melodic heritage

Unable to afford expensive props and costumes, the troupe uses cheaper substitutes. For example, fishing lines are used to replace yak-tail hairs to make fake beards. They also use cheap prickly heat powder as makeup base, and vegetable oil as makeup remover.

Despite the constraints, the troupe members are always in high spirits. They joke and laugh aloud. When off stage, they'd chat or play mahjong together to kill time.

Yan enjoys watching news and pirated blockbusters on his small TV.

From a family with a long opera singing tradition, Yan learned to perform with his father at 7. Yan and his two brothers, who are with the troupe, had performed in different places with their grandfather since early 1980s.

Opera actors take life as it comes

Opera actors take life as it comes

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