Quyi is a mesmerising collection of "talking and singing arts" that have been an integral part of Chinese culture for centuries. Rooted in the rich tapestry of folk oral literature and singing art, Quyi has evolved into a distinctive art form that spans an impressive array of styles and genres. From comedic storytelling to operatic arias, and everything in between, Quyi boasts a staggering 400 unique expressions of the human experience. The magic of Quyi lies in its ability to captivate audiences with its intricate storytelling, masterful performances, and timeless messages that have resonated with generations of Chinese people.
Folk art has deep roots in Chinese history, with oral storytelling and music playing a significant role in the country's cultural evolution. Even in ancient times, folk tales, witty jokes, and lively comic performances were infused with the artistic elements of Quyi. As the Tang Dynasty rose, Quyi found its momentum with the emergence of stories that showcased the lives of city dwellers and Buddhist scriptures that spoke to the masses. The rise of Daqu music and folk tunes fuelled the flourishing of this unique art form. Eventually, Quyi took on a life of its own and became an independent, vibrant art form.
The unique form of art employs a combination of storytelling and singing to depict characters, convey emotions, and portray societal issues. It sets itself apart from other art forms through its central aspect of "speaking and singing," which brings the narratives to life. Unlike traditional dramas where actors assume fixed roles, Quyi actors do not wear costumes and employ a technique where one person has multiple roles. This allows them to mimic several characters and perform multiple stories, using the power of speech, song, and acting.
Deviating from spoken art such as rap which relies on third-person narration, folk art takes on a different approach by using first-person simulation to convey its meanings. This leads to unique characteristics being showcased during stage performances, such as the "one person with multiple roles," "jumping in and out," and "one person in one drama" techniques.
Quyi performances can take place on a formal stage or anywhere else, allowing for greater freedom of expression compared to traditional theatre. The audiences of folk art are not constrained by the traditional stage frame and are able to let their imaginations run free. To draw the audience into the artistic world created by speaking and singing, Quyi actors listen more carefully and intently to their reactions, forging a closer relationship with the audience compared to actors in traditional theatre.