Shen Xiaomei


Shen Xiaomei
b. 20 December 1937, Shanghai
Xiqu (spoken drama/opera) actress
Shen Xiaomei is a personal student of the master Jingju actor Mei Lanfang. During the 1980s and early 1990s, Shen was a prolific and respected performer of plays created by Mei and a versatile and successful creator of new performances in Mei’s ‘performance style’ (liupai), making her one the most influential creative artists in the dan Xiqu role type (see Xiqu role types). Since the mid 1990s she has prominently promoted Jingju education in elementary and secondary schools, leading efforts to build new audiences for the form.
Shen was privately tutored in Jingju and Kunqu, and in 1953 became the personal disciple of Mei Lanfang, who placed her with the Jiangsu Province Jingju Company (Jiangsusheng jingju yuan) in 1956. For the next ten years, she gave between 150 and 350 performances per year in tours travelling as far as Vienna, where she received the top performance prize at the Seventh International Young People’s Arts Festival in 1959.
Shen taught at the Jiangsu Province Xiqu Academy (Jiangsusheng xiqu xueyuan) during the Cultural Revolution, returning to professional performance in 1981. Her major achievements during the following decade include The Decorated Candles (Baozhu ji), for which she received the ‘Hundred Flowers Award’ (Baihua jiang) for best performer in a newly created play (1983), and Mirror of Honour and Disgrace (Rongru jian), for which she received numerous awards in 1986. Shen taught Jingju performance at universities in the USA and Canada on several occasions during the 1980s and 1990s, and has headed the Jiangsu Province Committee for the Promotion of Jingju in Education since its inception. She has received innumerable national honours, including multiple ‘Plum-Blossom Awards’ (Meihua jiang), and has been recognized as a ‘Living Treasure’.
See also: Xiqu
ELIZABETH WICHMANN-WALCZAK

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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