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A piece of Chinese history: 8 model dramas in Chinese Culture Revolution (1966–1976) [3] Shajia Creek

Posted by Grace Feng on August 27, 2012

The Chinese Culture Revolution is a very special period of Chinese history in which the Gang of Four dictated almost every aspect of people’s life. During the Revolution, nothing is allowed in theatres except 8 model dramas (样板戏 yàng bǎn xì ) that were personally approved by Jiang Qing, Mao’s wife, also the leader of the Gang of Four.

It is hard to watch the 8 model dramas today since the roles in the play were depicted so “unreal and unnatural”. Good characters move between heroic poses that keep reminding me of a puppet, instead of a real person. Bad characters are purposely uglified to show how miserable and pathetic they are. The story itself might not be a bad one. But with all these deliberately set up “stereotype performance”, the play is full of weird taste.

History is history. 10 years of Culture Revolution was a tragedy of a nation that China can never forget. It has always been a heavy topic to talk about even after so many years.

In this series of post, I will collect the stories and images of all 8 model dramas and translate the story into English. They might can help my readers to have a peek into that period of Chinese history.

 

《沙家浜》Shajia Creek

This story is basically a battle of wits among members of the Communist Party, members of the KMT, local bandits, and the Japanese in the background of the Second Sino-Chinese War. The main role of this drama is a women member of the Party, named A Qing (阿庆嫂), that worked underground as a controller and point of contact to unite as more Chinese as she could to fight Japanese invading.

However, it was not an easy job at all since people that belong to different parties and gangs didn’t have belief in common and they fought with each other. That required A Qing to be full of wits and courage to protect her own comrades and at the same time destroy her enemy.

The main plot of the drama can be outlined as below:

The leader of a group of wounded Red Army soldiers were secretly getting treatment in Shajia Creek area. A Qing, the owner of a local tea house, among a few others were covering those soldiers from being found by KMT. At the same time, Japanese army were invading the area, which made the situation of the 18 soldiers even more dangerous.

A piece of Chinese history: 8 model dramas in Chinese Culture Revolution  (1966–1976) [3] Shajia Creek

However, A Qing was very calm and smart in her way to socialize with the suspicious enemies, Chuang Kui Hu and De Yi Diao, who worked for KMT and surrendered to Japanese. She managed to hide the soldiers from their enemies and moved ahead with her side of plan. The soldiers themselves became stronger and stronger underground force day after day.

A piece of Chinese history: 8 model dramas in Chinese Culture Revolution  (1966–1976) [3] Shajia Creek

In the end, the soldiers destroyed the KMT enemies and in turn drove away Japanese invaders.

A piece of Chinese history: 8 model dramas in Chinese Culture Revolution  (1966–1976) [3] Shajia Creek

-END-

Today Shajia Creek area (Chang Shu city, Jiang Su Province) has been developed into a vacation destination that encompasses a big area of marshes nature reserve. It attracts tourists not just because of the fame of the drama, but also its ecological environment and scenic view:

A piece of Chinese history: 8 model dramas in Chinese Culture Revolution  (1966–1976) [3] Shajia Creek

For seafood lovers, it’s also a place that you can satisfy your craving with its famous crab! :-)

A piece of Chinese history: 8 model dramas in Chinese Culture Revolution  (1966–1976) [3] Shajia Creek

 

 

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Volunteering in Kunming, China - Bridie's story
10 Cultural Tips for Learning Mandarin Chinese

 

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11 Responses to “A piece of Chinese history: 8 model dramas in Chinese Culture Revolution (1966–1976) [3] Shajia Creek”

  1. nothing

    白睿:

    08-28-2012 12:21 pm

    谢谢Grace,为你们的网友对这些八个样板戏有一些了解。你介绍得很好。:)

    Reply

    • nothing

      Grace:

      08-28-2012 7:24 pm

      白睿, 谢谢你的留言,我也在通过写这些介绍锻炼我的英文呢!:-)

      I found that there are very little information in English on the web that talks about those period of China. So I thought I may can contribute something to it…

      Grace

      Reply

  2. nothing

    白睿:

    08-29-2012 1:58 pm

    Actually Grace, there IS a lot of information regarding that period of Chinese history (文化大革命), perhaps more than about any other period in Chinese history, at least on English websites, but not a lot of information about the 8 model dramas. These short introductions you have written are most helpful. :)

    Reply

    • nothing

      Grace:

      08-29-2012 4:22 pm

      Hmn… that’s interesting … I should do more search on English sites then :-) … As a matter of fact, in China, that period of history was not that widely discussed for the obvious reason. That being said, it’s not a taboo either, but anything in the literature was written with discretion. Personally I don’t read politically biased stuff (in Chinese or in English). I’ve been seeking for good books or articles that talks about 文化大革命 from an unbiased perspective. Real experience are extremely valuable.

      Reply

    • nothing

      Grace:

      08-29-2012 4:31 pm

      There was always one burning question being asked by post-CR generation:”Why there were so few people step forward to say’This is wrong!’ Things could have changed if more voice being heard. ” Their parents would answer:”In a world that black is white, white is black, chances are, you wouldn’t know what color you actually see.”

      IMHO, that’s a classic summary of the period.

      Reply

  3. nothing

    白睿:

    08-30-2012 11:28 am

    Take a look at this site Grace, there is a lot of infomation here where you can dig down deeper(though I have not checked it all myself so do not know if there are political biases in evidence!)

    https://sites.google.com/a/wellesley.edu/china-politics-links/home

    Have you heard of The China History Podcast? It is done by an American guy who discusses various episodes/people from China’s long history. Most of the material is very interesting but I am sure it will be very familiar to you! :)

    He recently spent 8 episodes covering the Cultural Revolution. The site can be found at

    http://chinahistorypodcast.com/

    Oh, how do you say your sentence about “In a world where black is white…..” in Chinese?

    Reply

    • nothing

      Grace:

      08-30-2012 5:33 pm

      Thanks 白睿! Both links are good stuff. I’ll definitely spend some time to read and listen …

      Those photos on the site did bring back my childhood memories… it’s not an easy thing to comprehend “how fast” China has gone through from that stage to today, but that might give answers to certain bizarre behaviours of the society today.

      The sentence I wrote looks like this in Chinese:

      在一个黑白颠倒的世界, 你多半没法辨别你看到的到底是黑还是白。
      “In a world that black is white, white is black, chances are, you wouldn’t know what color you actually see.”

      Reply

  4. nothing

    白睿:

    08-31-2012 4:13 pm

    Glad to help you Grace. Thank you for the Chinese sentence, from which I learned a new phrase….多半!

    Reply

    • nothing

      Grace:

      09-03-2012 2:04 pm

      You’re welcome.:-)

      Reply

  5. nothing

    John Collett:

    11-02-2012 10:33 pm

    “In a world that black is white, white is black, chances are, you wouldn’t know what color you actually see.”
    This sentence appears to be trying to be clever, but in fact is meaningless. “In a world where black is white…” But there is no such world. What on earth does it all mean?

    Reply

    • nothing

      Grace Feng:

      11-03-2012 2:54 am

      Hi John,

      Actually I was just translated the original Chinese idiom literally into Chinese. But it looks like you’re not the only one get confused. :-) Sorry about that…

      So I looked it up in the dictionary and got the following translation:

      颠倒黑白: to invert black and white (idiom); to distort the truth deliberately

      Let me rephrase my English:” In a world that truth is deliberately distorted, it wouldn’t be easy to tell the wrong from the right.”

      Does this sound better? Let me know, John, thanks for your help!

      Grace

      Reply

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