acting


acting
(drama schools and training)
There are two routes to train for acting in the PRC: through professional and state-run schools or informally. According to official figures, there were 210 educational institutions for the performing arts in 1989, with 19,674 employees; by 1999 the number had risen slightly to 238, with 20,432 employees. Among these, most either include acting and performance skills in their purview or are specifically dedicated to them. In 1999, there were also nearly 300,000 mass art centres, cultural centres and cultural stations, which among other functions ran classes in acting and other performance skills like storytelling.
There are three main criteria for accepting students into full-time drama schools. These are voice, physical features and artistic ability. Potential students must also take an examination before auditioning. Competition is extremely keen, and acceptance rates usually well below 10 per cent.
In special cases, including exceptional ability or coming from an acting family, students may enter acting school as young as five years old, but the great majority must graduate from primary school before applying. Acting schools run courses on culture and general knowledge, as well as performance skills. This is to avoid illiteracy in the acting profession, which was once universal.
In classes or schools for traditional forms of drama, boys outnumber girls, reflecting the male dominance of the casts. However, this is not the case in the more modern theatre styles. Teaching techniques are traditional for the classical forms of drama. For modern theatre, they were strongly influenced by Russian methods, but have accepted techniques from other Western countries. Until the 1980s, acting schools were fully funded by the state. Although the state still gives substantial subsidies and schools offer scholarships, fees became more or less universal during the 1990s. These are quite large, especially since students live on the spot.
COLIN MACKERRAS

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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