Magical Face Changes in Sichuan Opera

Sichuan Opera
Sichuan Opera
Sichuan Opera (Chuan Ju) originated at the end of the Ming (1368-1644) and the beginning of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). With immigrants flooding into Sichuan, different dramas were brought in to blend with the local dialect, customs, folk music and dances. Gradually, brisk humorous Sichuan Opera, reflecting Sichuan culture, came into being. Face changing is the highlight of Sichuan Opera. It is said that ancient people painted their faces to drive away wild animals. Sichuan Opera absorbs this ancient skill and perfects it into an art. There are three types of face changes. In the Wiping Mask routine the actor applies cosmetic paint in a certain position on his face. If the whole face is to be changed, the cosmetic paint is applied to the forehead or eyebrows; for changes on the lower half of the face, paint is applied to his cheeks or nose; or to other specific parts. The Blowing Mask routine works with powder cosmetics, such as gold, silver, and ink powders. Sometimes a tiny box is placed on the stage; the actor draws near and blows at the box. The powder will puff up and stick to the face. Sometimes the powder is put in a cup. The secret to success in this act is to close the eyes and mouth and to hold the breath. The Pulling Mask routine is the most complicated. Masks are painted on pieces of damask, well cut, hung with a silk thread, and the lightly pasted to the face one by one. The silk thread is fastened in an inconspicuous part of the costume. With a flick of his cloak the performer magically whisks away the masks one by one as the drama develops. One Sichuan Opera master also used qi gong movements as he changed face color from red to white, then from white to black. Face changing is a magical art. Actors change more than 10 masks in less than 20 seconds! By raising the hand, swinging a sleeve or tossing the head, an actor uses different masks to show different emotions, expressing invisible and intangible feelings through visible and tangible masks. From green to blue, red, yellow, brown, black, dark and gold, these masks show fear, tension, relaxation, slyness, desperation, outrage, and so on. Sichuan Opera master Peng Denghuai changed 14 masks in 25 seconds, and reverted to four masks after revealing his true face. This was his latest Guinness World record, breaking his previous one. Hong Kong super star Andy Lau was said to respect Mr. Peng as teacher and mentor in this stunt. Today hi-tech is used to enhance this traditional art. Lasers and twinkling lights add a touch of mystery. And modern faces like Zorro are invited to the stage. Sichuan Opera, like hot-pot and other Sichuan cuisine winners, is exciting, rich and good-natured.

Che Guevara
Che Guevara

Che Guevara, real name Ernesto Guevara (1928-1967), Latin American guerrilla leader and revolutionary theorist, who became a hero to the New Left radicals of the 1960s. Born into a middle-class family in Rosario, Argentina, Guevara received a medical degree from the University of Buenos Aires in 1953. Convinced that revolution was the only remedy for Latin America’s social inequities, in 1954 he went to Mexico, where he joined exiled Cuban revolutionaries under Fidel Castro. In the late 1950s, he played an important role in Castro’s guerrilla war against Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista, and when Castro came to power, he served as Cuba’s minister of industry (1961-1965). A strong opponent of U.S. influence in the Third World, he helped guide the Castro regime on its leftward and pro-Communist path. The author of two books on guerrilla warfare, Guevara advocated peasant-based revolutionary movements in the developing countries. He disappeared from Cuba in 1965, reappearing the following year as an insurgent leader in Bolivia. He was captured by the Bolivian army and executed near Vallegrande on October 8, 1967. Born in Argentina and trained as a physician, Che Guevara became a military commander for Fidel Castro from 1956 to 1959, during the Cuban revolution. Guevara opposed United States intervention in Latin American affairs and believed that only violent revolution could remedy the poverty of the masses. Guevara wrote two books about guerrilla warfare and led guerrilla forces in South American countries. He was captured and killed by Bolivian troops while leading a guerrilla band trying to overthrow the Bolivian government.

LISTEN TO HASTA SIEMPRE COMANDANTE CHE GUEVARA from Carlos PUEBLA :

Carlos Puebla

 

Aprendimos a quererte
desde la histórica altura
donde el sol de tu bravura
le puso un cerco a la muerte.

Aquí se queda la clara,
la entrañable transparencia,
de tu querida presencia
Comandante Che Guevara.

Tu mano gloriosa y fuerte
sobre la historia dispara
cuando todo Santa Clara
se despierta para verte.

Aquí se queda la clara,
la entrañable transparencia,
de tu querida presencia
Comandante Che Guevara.

Vienes quemando la brisa
con soles de primavera
para plantar la bandera
con la luz de tu sonrisa.

Aquí se queda la clara,
la entrañable transparencia,
de tu querida presencia
Comandante Che Guevara.

Tu amor revolucionario
te conduce a nueva empresa
donde esperan la firmeza
de tu brazo libertario.

Aquí se queda la clara,
la entrañable transparencia,
de tu querida presencia
Comandante Che Guevara.

Seguiremos adelante
como junto a ti seguimos
y con Fidel te decimos:
hasta siempre Comandante.

Aquí se queda la clara,
la entrañable transparencia,
de tu querida presencia
Comandante Che Guevara.

(Carlos Puebla, 1965)