Viewed from this perspective, we can see that the plot follows a more or less circular trajectory. The multiple options of ownership are all fully explored but finish with more or less the same problematic as we began with: “court” (=national) ownership may or may not guarantee authenticity (their original promise) but they kill off the independence of the performer-artists and ignore the true education of the potential new-generation audience.
3a: A Note on the Tradition of Peking Opera:
Before we move into the tale itself, however, we need to summarize some important peculiarities of PO as an art – for these all have a bearing on how the form will be used to encapsulate larger historical issues in the story.
The most telling of these peculiarities is that authenticity means primarily loyalty to a more or less frozen performance tradition: its playscript. Genuineness has little or nothing to do with projecting the authentic flavor/atmosphere of popular artistic performance. On the contrary, a self-blinding concern with purity of performance ends up raising a wall that blocks all spontaneous digressions – making PO in a sense the antithesis of itinerant (troubadour) folk art, constantly revising and expanding its repertoire as it flows through different locales.