Some foreign students are going through rigorous training for the art of Peking Opera. Many young people are now studying at the National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts in Beijing.
Meet Elias from Finland: he’s here to learn the role of the painted face, and ia now in a physical training class. For a beginner it is very demanding, but he’s determined to master his role.
Student Elias Edstrom Hualian said, "I have to be able to lift my leg up very high..."
Rahel Buschor is from Switzerland. She’s only been here for a couple of months, but is already getting a handle on her role as the monkey king.
This is her hour long training session, where she combines the moves and lines along with the beats and gongs.
She shows us a key move that captures the essence of her role.
Student Rahel Zoe Buschor said, "...the eyes are very important.."
There are more than a dozen foreign students at the academy, and their training ranges anywhere from 4 months to 4 years. Instructor Lv Suosen has taught many of them.
Student Amtti Silvennoinen
"The language barrier is a great challenge for many of the students here, but time and time again, their intense motivation overcomes. If you really love something, you catch on pretty quick. Foreign students tend to favour more physical roles like the monkey king or martial arts roles," Lu Suosen, instructor of Nat'l Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts, said.
Roles involving combat are called Wusheng. Amtti is another student from Finland. He felt drawn to study Peking Opera when he first saw an amazing fight scene as a theatre student.
When asked about why he chose the role, his answer is surprisingly profound.
Student Amtti Silvennoinen said, "I think the role Wusheng chose me, rather than I chose Wusheng..."
Few foreigners seek permanent careers as Peking Opera performers. Instead, most of them plan to incorporate Peking Opera moves into Western theatre after their studies. Whatever the case, their diligence in learning the craft is truly inspiring. But there’s only one way to find out exactly what they’re going through.