Actor Zhang Jianfeng passes on Peking Opera tradition to his son
By Wang Siwen, Huang Xiaodong

For nearly 30 years, Peking Opera actor Zhang Jianfeng has been honing his work in this quintessentially Chinese theatrical genre. He began studying it as a child. Now, it's his child who's doing the studying. The father and son pair are helping to preserve this piece of China's cultural heritage.

"Although the Peking Opera only has about 200 years of history, it contains the beauty of traditional Chinese culture from over thousands of years. There's the makeup, such as on the faces of male characters and elderly men, the pretty eyebrows and eyelines, the matching of undertone colors. Plus, our artificial facial hair, it is all hand-made, also the thick shoe bottoms. I like it a lot when someone gets all dressed up and uses facial expressions. I am definitely proud of my son. His name is Zhang Yuntian, which means 'standing on top of the mountain.' He can set aside the mist and clouds, to see the clear sky. I didn't ask him to work in this industry. But when he was little, he watched me practice at home, or sometimes I took him to watch our rehearsals. He might have been influenced by that. I think this is a kind of inheritance. So I let my son know about our traditional culture, what the good things are about it. Because Peking Opera is inherited generation by generation, from person to person. I let my son know about the traditional culture of Peking Opera, its greatness, because Peking Opera is carried through generation by generation, passed from person to person," Zhang Jianfeng told CGTN.

His son Zhang Yuntian said: "I think all actors and actresses look very good. My favorite play is 'Silang Visits His Mother.' I also like the part 'Jiao Xiao Fan,' it feels very powerful, and I find it very exciting. I also like the part when Xiao Fan gets married. Whenever I want to learn, I will ask them to teach me. I don't really have much time if I practice every day. Sometimes I practice on weekends, and also during summer holidays. It could be the whole week or half a week. It basically takes up 40 percent of my life."

(Gao Ang also contributed to this story)