xiaopin


xiaopin
(small performance, skit)
Performing art
Xiaopin is the shortened form of xiju xiaopin (comedic small performances). Believed to originate from lachangxi, a quyi show popular in the Tieling region of northeast China, it inherited the rustic humour of the local populace. Xiaopin emerged at a time when xiangsheng (cross-talk) saw its charm fading. A hybrid of the one-act play and xiangsheng, xiaopin appeared first on the stage and then the television.
Comedian Chen Peisi and Zhu Shimao performed their Eating Noodles (Chimian) at the 1984 Chinese New Year Celebration Gala, broadcast to millions of television viewers. Chen played an uncouth lad dreaming of being an actor. He was asked to improvise noodle-eating at a solicited interview. Out of his eagerness, he ended up finishing a whole bucket of noodles before knowing what he was expected to do. His excellent pantomime established him as an icon of early Chinese xiaopin, which included the memorable Unlicensed Pregnancy (Chaosheng youjidui) by Huang Hong; A Rice Pedlar (Huan dami) by Guo Da; and Packaged to Cheat (Ruci baozhuang) by Gong Hanlin and Zhao Lirong. Zhao’s untimely death saddened the whole nation.
In the 1990s, a ‘northeast wind’ dominated the limelight with the success of Zhao Benshan, Pan Changjiang and Gao Xiumei—all from northeast China. Their famous skits included A New Year’s Call (Bainian) and Cross the River (Guohe). But, like xiangsheng, xiaopin is running out of steam due to lack of originality. Nevertheless, together with xiangsheng and pop music, it still counts as one of the most popular forms of entertainment.
Du, Wenwei (1998). ‘Xiaopin: Chinese Theatrical Skits as Both Creatures and Critics of Commercialism’. China Quarterly 154 (June): 382–99.
YUAN HAIWANG

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.