Taipei Quyi Tuan
By Lee Hsiang-Ray Translated by Ann Lee
19, ZhongShun St, Sec 2; (02) 2234-5610
160 years ago, during the Qing Dynasty, Cross Talks--Chinese stand-up comedy--were considered a verbal art form. Cross Talks are different from other performing arts in that the content is usually related to our daily lives; the characters, objects and situations commented on in the dialogues are familiar and relatable. Although this tradition has been around for centuries, today's performers have vamped up the art, making it up-to-date and accessible to today's generation.
There are many groups in Taiwan working to promote Cross Talking. One of them, the Taipei Quyi Tuan plays an important role in achieving this goal. Located in WenShan district, Taipei Quyi Tuan was formed in 1993. Apart from group leader Mr. Zhang Zhi-jie, there are many professional actors and traditional opera experts in the troupe. During the past decade, they've been performing around the world. In 2005, they even performed at CCTV's Spring Festival party in China, effectively representing Taiwan's Cross Talk tradition.
In September, Quyi Tuan will be putting on a show called "Qiu-Dou" at Novel Hall near Taipei 101, where they will perform five shows. Apart from "About Mother Language," performed by masters of stand-up comedy Zhu De-gang and Liu Zeng-kai, the audience will also get to see a classic performance called "A story from Xiyou Ji (Record of a Journey to the West), performed by clapper ballad master Lin Wen-bin. Of course, there will be some new programs such as "Qiu Hou Suan Suan Zhang," which basically means 'waiting for a good time to settle accounts with someone'. In this talk, the players portray some observations about the current chaos in Taiwanese society. In "Continuity Pop Songs," the performers lead audiences through some classic pop songs. One of the longest programs is the "8 Reredoses,"--which contains nine sections--and it has been more than one hundred years since all the parts have been performed together. The piece will be performed by four renowned masters of Cross Talk.
Most people don't know much about Cross Talk, and to many, the performances are just a compilation of jokes told in a Beijing accent. Apart from putting on performances, the Taipei Quyi Tuan group has also established an educational department that plans to promote this art. They believe that this type of linguistic art assists youngsters and people of all ages in really understanding the Chinese language. They are also working in coordination with schools and students of all levels to develop a series of programs such as an "Art of Cross Talk Camp." The camp will run during the summer, to give students a chance to become familiar with the art.
For those who've never seen a real Cross Talk show onstage or have never heard about the art, it is a worthwhile cultural experience to check out. Mr. Zhang hopes that more people will get a chance to experience this unique art and get something out of it--even if just an evening of laughter.