Did You Know?

IB Theater students explore worldwide performance traditions

IB Theater learners have been busy exploring various worldwide theater traditions this school year. Did you know that as part of this exploration they have been exploring the world of Peking Opera?

students exploring the movements of the peking opera

IB Theater students are working on understanding the theoretical and cultural context of this famous theater tradition while undertaking some practical and physical exploration of the performance conventions linked with Peking Opera and other worldwide theatre traditions. As performers they will also be reflecting on how this understanding helps students to develop as performers and make connections between different theater practices around the world.

Esther, IB2 Theater student, performs Kabuki. Originating from the Edo period, Kabuki is a type of Japanese Theatre that is composed of singing, dancing, and acting. Kabuki plays are kept simple and are categorized under heroic action plays. This simplicity allows the Kabuki actor's skills and technique of singing, dancing and or acting to shine.

IB theater students dancing in a performance

Two sessions took place with the first on November 9 and the second on November 12 with THEART Cultural Communication. THEART Cultural Communication is based in Shanghai and was founded in 2013 by Producer Grant Zhong for the creation, development and production of theater, TV and film projects and theater education. THEART is involved in projects which are created, developed and performed in Shanghai as well as around China and internationally. We work in close association with a wide variety of theater artists, experts, space, academies and companies, major media and international organizations.

students learning about the theater and the peking opera
Students Learning History of Peking Opera in class


The first session on November 9 explored a brief history and basic knowledge of Peking Opera and an introduction to role types. The second session held November 12 demonstrated gesture, body movement, character walk and weapon use as well as performance elements and practical work.

Jenny is an IB1 Theater student performing Rakugo. Rakugo is a type of Japanese storytelling originated from the Edo period. A Rakugo performer will use their voice to play two or more roles in the stories. These humorous stories usually appeal to the general audience.

IB Theater Students Exploring the Peking Opera

The sessions were conducted by two very important performers and promoters of Peking Opera. Grant Zhong is a theatre producer, translator, diction coach, voice acting director with 15 years of experience in theatre industry, as well as in managing international programs who is also a Peking Opera expert. Xu Jiali has studied Peking Opera since she was 10 and worked for Shanghai Beijing Opera Company for two and half years. In 2003, she went to Singapore to take a three-year course in Theatre Training and Research Program with full scholarship, studying various western acting methods and traditional theatre performances of India, Japan and Indonesia.

picture of xu jiali
picture of grant zhong

The IB Theater students were appreciative of these sessions that taught them a lot about the importance of Peking Opera in Chinese culture and the technicalities involved in the performances.

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