Newsletter No. 531

七歲從藝,初為電影童星,後踏上粵劇舞臺,自此氍毹逐夢六十多載,除醉心演出,更以傳承粵劇 藝術為己任,積極向學界推廣粵劇。2018至19年度,俯允中大主講通識課程「中國戲曲欣賞」。 Professor Yuen began his performing career at seven as a child film star. Later, he took on Cantonese opera and over the past 60-odd years has devoted himself to the art. A seasoned performer, he spares no effort in promoting Cantonese opera in the academic world. In 2018–19, he taught a CUHK general education course entitled ‘The Appreciation of Chinese Opera’. 為何答允中大講授中國戲曲課程? 讓學生認識戲曲是我數十年來的心願,英國人都知道莎士 比亞,意大利的村婦亦對歌劇如數家珍,日本無人不知能 劇,雖然不普及,但起碼通過家庭和學校,對自己國家的表 演藝術有所認識和尊重。為何我們的年輕一代會不認識中 國戲曲? 學生對粵劇哪些地方最感興趣? 小學生定是服裝和化妝,我會拿新事物吸引他們,例如告 訴他們把花旦的片子弄得貼貼服服的刨花是中國千年歷史 的純天然髮膠。中學生分析力較高,抗拒和接受都比較強 烈,歷史故事是很好的切入點。 這次在中大授課,如何設定內容? 原意是介紹戲曲的正規輪廓,包括一些現在看不到原貌的 傳統戲曲特質,為學生建立欣賞的基礎。我很高興出席者 不都是戲迷,不是為捧場而來,而是真正會筆記提問。文化 藝術的培植需要時間,不是朝種樹晚鋸板。我不是要年輕 人明天就去買票看粵劇,只是希望他們認識這塊廣東文化 瑰寶。 粵劇在革新方面步伐如何? 小心別亂了步伐。戲曲的鑼鼓音樂、臺步舞蹈、唱做唸打、 服飾舞臺,緊密糅合成為一套完整的程式,割裂改動便會 亂套,便不是戲曲。話劇、西方歌劇可以革新其中一些元 素,羅密歐與朱麗葉穿了牛仔褲,仍可唸莎劇的臺詞,唱他 們的詠歎調,但革新了戲曲的服裝,那水袖如何耍起來?水 髮如何甩起來? 絲毫也不能動? 可以賦予舊故事新生命,同是講長平公主,唐滌生跟清代 的黃韻珊便對清廷有不同程度的鞭撻。《白蛇傳》可以在 愛情故事之上突出社會控訴。我寫《文姬歸漢》,道盡蔡文 姬的無可奈何。所謂高臺教化,就是呈現社會現象、人生困 境,引起觀眾共鳴,從而思索如何自處。 拜師學藝和學院訓練兩者比較如何? 師徒制是捆綁式,以前師徒同住,弟子服其勞,徒弟在師傅 教導別人的時候可以偷師,茶餘酒後與同輩切磋,或向前輩 請益,也是從旁學習的機會。用心聆聽揣摩,無論技藝或待 人處事,定必受用不已。可是一邊拜師學習,一邊上學校, 又會疲於奔命。 學院系統訓練勝在循序漸進,條理分明。但是如果開辦的 是大專課程,這個年齡學戲太遲了,只得兩至四年學習,也 未足夠。最好是成立包含文化課程的寄宿戲曲學校,藝術 的比例重一點,例如六年中學畢業後,文化科等同初中水 準。 七歲開始演藝生涯的你如何看「神童」的美號? 「神童」只是引誘觀眾入場的口號,不要自我迷戀,掉進 名氣的陷阱裏。小孩子只要一點兒漂亮功夫便容易博得稱 讚,但如果不自我增值,長大了何以為繼?在我之前的「神 童」,好多只是短暫輝燦便歸於沉寂,我目睹觀眾對他們的 失望離棄,視為最大警惕。我十六歲拜師,還要是全行最凶 的老倌。就是因為自知不足,要跟隨嚴師重新學起。 阮兆輝教授 Prof. Yuen Siu-fai Why did you agree to teach a course on Chinese operatic art at CUHK? It’s been my wish for decades to introduce students to the art of Chinese opera. Britain has Shakespeare, Italy its operas, Japan its Noh. They may be highbrow, but these arts are at least known and respected by most people in the countries. Why is it that our young people know so little about Chinese opera? What do students find interesting about Cantonese opera? Primary school pupils are always fascinated by the costumes and the make-up. They would be fascinated by my saying, for example, that the leading actress uses a natural substance discovered more than a thousand years ago to gel her hair. Secondary school students are of an impressionable age. It’s better to analyse and reason with them. Historical stories would be more effective. What were your considerations when designing the CUHK course? My intention was to give students a general understanding of traditional Chinese opera, including features no longer seen today, laying down for them the foundation for appreciating the art. I am glad to see that not all the students were Chinese opera fans; they were serious learners who took notes and posed questions. The cultivation of artistic appreciation is not something that can be achieved overnight: it takes time. I don’t expect young people to make a beeline for the box- office after the course, but I do hope they will learn to appreciate this piece of gem in Cantonese culture. How is Cantonese opera in innovating? Care and caution must be taken when introducing changes. The music, stage movements, dancing, singing, acting, recitation, martial art displays, costumes, stage setting, etc., all form an interlocking whole. Any change or deviation might turn it into something else. It’s relatively easier to innovate in drama and Western opera. Romeo and Juliet in jeans, for example, can still speak Shakespeare’s lines or sing Gounod’s arias without looking odd. But if the Cantonese opera players were dressed in modern outfits, how could they do the ‘willowy sleeves’ or the hair swinging? Does this mean that no change should be contemplated at all? Old stories can be endowed with new lives. For instance, Tang Ti-sheng’s Princess Changping is different from Huang Yunshan’s. Social criticism can be introduced into the love story of White Snake . I hope to convey a sense of inevitability in my Cai Wenji’s Return to Han Soil . The purpose is to lay before the audience the human predicament amidst social reality for them to reflect upon. How would you compare the traditional apprentice system with today’s college training? The traditional apprentice system means a very close tie between master and apprentice: they live under one roof, and the apprentice carries out all the chores for the master. The apprentice may take away something when seeing how his master taught others, or compare notes with his peers at leisure, or consult his seniors for instruction. He would benefit a lot, in both performance techniques and social skills. However, serving as an apprentice and going to school at the same time is very demanding. College training, on the other hand, is systematic and methodical. But I am afraid it may be too late to start the training at college level, not to mention that college is only two to four years. It is better to have a boarding school of opera with a six-year curriculum tilted towards Cantonese opera performance but at the same time offering grammar school subjects up to Secondary 3 level. You made your debut at the tender age of seven. How do you see the label of ‘child prodigy’? The label is only a marketing ploy and one should not be too serious about it. It’s easy for a kid to win applause with cute little tricks, but to sustain people’s interest one must keep improving as one grows up. I witnessed many so-called whiz kids before me whose star faded after just a very short stint. That was a wake-up call and reminded me of my inadequacy. That was why I started my apprenticeship to learn everything from scratch under a very strict master at the age of 16. S. Lo 08 # 5 3 1 | 1 9 . 0 1 . 2 0 1 9 口 談 實 錄 / V iva V oce