Chinaentered the modern era amidst turbulence and change in the 20th century. The Revolution of 1911 put an end to the 2,000-year rule of the feudal dynasties. Thus there was a spate of famous actors and actresses and schools of Peking Operain the early decades of this century.
In 1927, an open selection of the topDanactors, sponsored by theShuntian Timesnewspaper, was launched. As a result, Mei Lanfang (1894-1961), Shang Xiaoyun (1900-1976), Cheng Yanqiu and Xun Huisheng (1900-1968) were the most outstanding in the selection, and were named the four most famousDanactors of Peking Opera at this time, each having his own unique characteristics in regard to action, expression and music. In addition, each had his own special repertoire, and these have been handed down from generation to generation. Eventually, they formed the four main schools of Peking Opera.
Later, groups of excellent young actors were active on the opera stages, among whom the most famous were: Li Shifang, Zhang Junqiu, Mao Shilai and Song Dezhu, selected by theLiyan Newspaper. Each of the four had his own special repertoire, and their wonderful performances were well received by the mass. Eventually, they were recognized as the four sub-leadingDanactors of Peking Opera.