Tian Lianyuan: Revealing life through a 'living fossil'

"Audiences should be glued to their seats, listening intently to your every word." So says pingshu artist Tian Lianyuan. On stage, he has just three everyday objects to help him tell a story – a fan, a wooden block and a handkerchief. Yet he manages to conjure "a life story, a historical drama" in which the audience become immersed in thousands of years of history and vast landscapes populated by vivid characters. Through his mastery of the art, Tian Lianyuan has been key to revitalizing pingshu, one of the oldest and most widely-performed forms of traditional storytelling in China.

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