Translator: CKtalon Editor: CKtalon
The spectators laughed again as many women shouted, “We brought our husbands here, but we still want to see men!”
When Fifth Zhao saw this, he said in a manner of deep resentment, “You men! Is this how you discipline your wives!? All of you… embarrass us men! I don’t want to brag, but don’t look down on my average looks. At home, I have the final say! When I say it’s mealtime, it’s mealtime! My wife will immediately prepare the meal. When I say dress up—”
“What!?” a woman’s yelling voice suddenly sounded.
Following that a woman walked out from backstage, and Fifth Zhao roared out. “All Hail the Empress!”
Then, Fifth Zhao knelt down.
It tickled everyone incessantly…
“Master, this is a Two-people Rotation? Why aren’t the two of them rotating? I thought they would stick together and spin like a top until they fly into the sky.” asked Red Boy in an utterly carefree manner as he sat beside Fangzheng as he ate melon seeds and drank soda.
Fangzheng rolled his eyes. “Brains are good stuff. Can’t you grow some?”
Red Boy said aggrieved, “But that’s what I thought!”
“Master, what exactly is Two-people Rotation?” Squirrel squatted on Fangzheng’s shoulder obediently as he asked.
Fangzheng smiled. “Present-day Two-people Rotation is different from the version of the past. In the past, Two-people Rotation went by many different names. It could be performed solo, in pairs or even in a group. However most of the times these days, it’s a man and woman combo. As it’s two people singing, people like to call it Two-people Rotation.
“Two-people Rotation is a performance that has its roots in the northeast. However, Two-people Rotation is not like other performances that have only one trait. It does not adhere to a framework which it cannot extricate itself from. In its earliest days, Two-people Rotation was a kind of yangko opera which had all sorts of jumping. It was purely done to get laughs. Therefore, people called it Bengbeng. Later, Two-people Rotation fused with Hebei’s Falling Lotus routine, making it a performance that includes singing and dancing while hosting a program. There’s a good saying that Two-people Rotation has its foundations in yangge 1 with Falling Lotus routines 2 at its fringes.
“But that’s not all. Two-people Rotation isn’t immutable. During all these years of development, Two-people Rotation has been constantly changing. It changes with the preferences of society. At one stage of development, it drew lessons from folk songs, liuqiang opera 3 , Fengyang Flower Drumming 4 , Hebei’s bangzi opera 5 , Ping opera 6 , Peking opera, etc. Two-people Rotation draws on the strengths of everything while ensuring that its framework remains the same, but it manages to fuse all sorts of opera styles in China.
“Crosstalk focuses on speaking, learning, entertainment, and singing, but Two-people Rotation performers have to not only learn how to sing, talk, act, and dance, they must also have some good tricks up their sleeves. They call it the great Four Skills, One Special! This special includes handkerchiefs, fans, boards, or jade boards. However, competition is tight these days. Just using the same old skills and specials will no longer work. Therefore they are all researching into different kinds of performance tricks such as contortionist arts, three-meter-high somersaults, etc. All of this is to attract a wider audience. Therefore it’s difficult to become a good Two-people Rotation performer.
“Of course, as Two-people Rotation replicates everything, it can be said to be a jack of all trades kind of thing. When it comes to speaking, learning, and entertainment, the quality can’t be compared with the quality of the performances delivered by real professional crosstalkers. Their singing cannot compare with professional singers’ singing. When it comes to acrobatics, they can’t compare with those that really train in acrobatics. However, they stand out by being a complete package, so there’s bound to be something you like.”
“Master, since Two-people Rotation is so good, why didn’t you let us watch it?” asked a perplexed Red Boy.
Fangzheng smiled wryly. “What I know was taught to me by a Patron many years ago when I watched a performance myself. However, I can’t figure out why the Two-people Rotation I watched had nothing to do with what I described. Thankfully, Fifth Zhao’s performance today is quite interesting.”
Red Boy exclaimed in enlightenment, “So Master, you are a classic case of once bitten twice shy. What did you actually see to result in such prejudice against Two-people Rotation? So much so that you don’t even want to watch it.”
Fangzheng shook his head with a bitter smile. What could he say? Was he to tell them that back then, the Two-people Rotation he saw was all about penises, breasts, and asses? He had planned on taking this opportunity to teach his disciples a lesson, but from the way Fifth Zhao behaved, he did not seem to be interested in going down that route. Fangzheng’s plans were moot, but it was not bad if he could watch a good performance. It could be considered a win-win situation for all.
At that moment, the sound of motor engines was heard as cars the sizes of tractors drove over. A large group of people jumped off. They were from the neighboring villages, and a number of them had driven over in tiny cars. All of them looked pretty happy.
Fangzheng was no stranger to such scenes. The neighboring villagers had little sources of entertainment, so they would rush over in groups whenever another village had any activities. Fangzheng had once traveled more than five kilometers just to watch a movie. However he never expected that the Two-people Rotation would attract such an audience.
Yang Hua did not stop them either. Such programs were best enjoyed when watched in groups. What he wanted was precisely liveliness, so it was naturally best if there were more people.
The group of people brought their own benches. Although all the best seats were gone, they found spots to squeeze themselves in.
Instantly the school field was packed.
When Fifth Zhao saw so many people come, he immediately became pumped. “Next, I’ll perform something good for you! Romance of the Western Chamber!”
Just as Fangzheng was about to cheer, he heard boos coming from around him.
“Fifth Zhao, that’s such an ancient performance. Don’t bother, it’s boring!” yelled someone at the top of his lungs.
“That’s right. Fifth Zhao, do something meaningful. What’s nice about that crap? It’s all crying…”
“That’s right! Fifth Zhao, do Perverted Journey to the West. That would be interesting!”
Fifth Zhao’s smile froze when he heard the opposing voices offstage. He hurriedly said, “Alright, if you don’t want to watch Romance of the Western Chamber, let’s do something else. Let’s sing a song to about welcoming the new year. How about that? It’s jubilant.”
“Fifth Zhao, don’t keep performing old stuff. The Pu Family Troupe is super popular now. Learn from them! If you continue performing your old performances, you will soon be out of business.”
“Fifth Zhao, if you are going to stick to the old acts, we are leaving.”
“We won’t hire you in the future!”
Fifth Zhao’s face darkened the moment he heard that. He supported his family and troupe through his performances, and he was most afraid of having his art being dictated by others! If he was truly boycotted and didn’t have any business in the future, his career as an artist would be over. After all, his fame was only limited to the local region. He was nobody further away.
Fangzheng shot a glance at the ones speaking. They were from neighboring villages and were basically copies of the former Dog Song. They were pretty much riffraff of society who did not live by honest means. These people had tattoos all over their bodies, and the way they shouted was clearly with the intention to provoke. It did not seem like they were only there to watch the performance but to stir trouble. However, Fangzheng did not say a word. He watched by the side, curious what the men were up to.