2018 / December
Lee Shan Wei /photos courtesy of Jimmy Lin /tr. by Phil Newell
Standing on stage in a long robe, with no other props than the fan in his hand, the performer brings the audience to laughter or tears simply by his words and the expressive movements of his eyes. “Crosstalk” (xiangsheng, or comic dialogue), an Asian performance art based on speaking and singing, with its origins among the common man, contains questions that make one think deeply hidden within its humorous talking, imitation, teasing, and singing.
Liu Zengkai, director of the Wu Zhao Nan Xiang Sheng & Theater Association, learned his craft from crosstalk master Wu Zhaonan, who was celebrated as a national treasure. For the past 30 years, Liu has steadfastly passed along the tradition and trained new talent. He has performed in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and mainland China. He has not only devoted himself to passing along this traditional art form, he has injected sustainable vitality into crosstalk with routines that keep up with current events and the times.