Zhejiang Wuju Opera actor wins Plum Performance Prize
A stage photo of Lou Sheng. [Photo/zj.zjol.com.cn]
Lou Sheng, an actor at the Zhejiang Wuju Opera Art Institute, won the Plum Performance Prize, China's top dramatic acting award, with the highest number of votes among all prize-winners, on May 21.
It was the 30th biennial presentation of the Plum Performance Prize. This year, a total of 53 outstanding artists nationwide were selected into the preliminary round, with 17 of them entering the final round. The judges' votes on their live performances determined the 15 prize-winners in the end.
Lou was the only Zhejiang artist who entered this year's final round. At present, Zhejiang is home to 41 Plum Performance Prize laureates, four of whom are two-time winners and one is a three-time winner.
Lou started to practice performing Wuju Opera in 2000. He is widely regarded as a young-generation Wuju Opera actor with strong expressive force, innovative abilities, charm, and influence. Several theatre experts have hailed him "a well-deserved benchmark for Wuju Opera's male youth characters" and "a champion who demonstrates the highest degree of difficulties in traditional operas".
"The artistic lifespan for opera artists, particularly those playing martial roles, is not so long. As such, I hold a conscientious attitude towards each and every show, for fear of wasting my prime and failing audiences' expectations," Lou said in a media interview.
Lou had not thought of becoming the highest voted performer for this year's Plum Performance Prize and showed gratitude towards the team work and the entire community of Wuju Opera artists.
"The art troupe's leaders, directors, and performers have been constantly improving my preparation for the award-winning show. Compared with a lot of senior performers and predecessors, I am very lucky to live in a prosperous period for Wuju Opera," Lou said. "I just picked the 'plum blossom' by standing on my predecessors' shoulders.”
Wuju Opera, which is native to Jinhua, Zhejiang province, boasts a history of over 500 years. In 2008, Wuju Opera was included on the list of national-level intangible cultural heritage items. The most-esteemed Peking Opera guru Mei Lanfang once stressed the necessity and significance for Peking Opera artists to draw inspiration from Wuju Opera.
To date, Wuju Opera has seen three actresses, Chen Meilan, Zhang Jianmin, and Yang Xiayun, as well as the actor Lou Sheng be awarded the Plum Performance Prize. Chen has won the prize twice.