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Fictitious Expression Method - the Core of the Stage Structure

A complete set of fictitious expression methods to master the problems of time and space is the core of stage structure in Chinese theater.

Without any stage settings or properties, the performers carry the audience on wings of imagination by means of miming and other actions. For example, in The Story of the Jade Bracelet, the actress who plays the role of Sun Yujiao makes the audience perceive the different environments of the play through symbolic actions, such as crossing a threshold, threading a needle, embroidering, and counting and feeding chickens. Moreover, even an actor's thoughts and moods can be expressed through such stylized fictitious performance methods. In this sense, the fictitious method plays a vital role in combining the description of the environment and the characters' feelings. (Fig.1 -7)

Fictitious and symbolic performances in Chinese operas offer dramatists and performers wide-ranging freedom to express themselves, thus widening the scope of the drama. These techniques allow actors and actresses to guide the audiences to flowing rivers, lofty mountains, military camps, or journeys by boat, sedan chair, or on the sea. By stimulating the audience's imagination, per formers can easily fulfill the task of artistic creation. That is the reason why on the empty stage Chinese operas may present colorful scenes and varied lives.

It is worth noting that, while the fictitious method has indeed turned the dull stage into a spot where actors may come and go freely, such coming and going still has to be subject to the restriction that art must truly reflect life. Hence, the fictitious stage must be combined with a sense of reality. For instance, regarding "riding a horse," the horse does not exist, but the whip is real. The player's action of flourishing the whip to urge on the horse must be correct and precise, conforming to real- life gestures. Chinese actors and actresses have striven hard to develop the fictitious method in such a way that it combines imagination with reality. An outstanding actor or actress can combine them flawlessly, and perform smoothly and naturally, making the audience understand his or her actions precisely.

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