Xinhua News Agency, Beijing, February 6th: Seeing art as knowledge, seeing art as life—— Remembering performance artist Zheng Rong
Xinhua News Agency reporter Bai Ying
He is Chang Siye in the drama “Tea House”, Zhou Puyuan in “Thunderstorm”, he is the Taishang Laojun in the TV series “Journey to the West”, Kong Rong in “The Romance of the Three Kingdoms”…
“The attitude of treating art as learning has been throughout his life” “He considers a drama career as life” “He is a model of a scholar-like actor”… At the memorial meeting held by Beijing People’s Art on February 6, many colleagues and Relatives and friends remembered his never-ending life.
Zheng Rong, a famous performance artist and consultant of the Beijing People’s Art Committee, died in Beijing on December 24, 2022 at the age of 98.
Create real people on stage
In his stage career of more than 70 years, Zheng Rong has created many characters with different personalities and different styles, among the most famous are Zhou Puyuan in “Thunderstorm” and Chang Siye in “Teahouse”. With the changes of the times and the growth of age, Zheng Rong constantly has a new understanding and creation, in order to improve the characters he plays.
According to Feng Yuanzheng, director of Beijing People’s Arts, during the process of playing Zhou Puyuan from 1953 to 1998, Zheng Rong started from class analysis to human nature, and finally transferred his part to Cao Yu with a complete line of thought. Think of it as “unfinished answer sheet”; from 1958 to 1992, in the process of playing Chang Siye, Zheng Rong continued to study and revise, from acting only as a tough man to find a vivid feeling of the character.
As a veteran of the Beijing People’s Art Institute, Zheng Rong is also the first version of these two characters. The pearls and jades are in the front, so that the latecomers will look up at the mountains.
“Mr. Zheng Rong Fourth Master Chang is the force for me to play Fourth Master Chang. He is the image seed in my heart.” Pu Cunxin, former vice president of Beijing People’s Arts, said how to handle Zheng Rong’s performance is the center of his later performance in “Ty Te” Subjects that cannot be opened.
Gu Wei, the second generation actor Zhou Puyuan, has similar feelings. “Zhou Puyuan is Zheng Rong in my heart. I did not dare to take this role at the beginning, because I could not act as a ‘flower’.” He said that Zheng Rong himself and the aura that gave Zhou Puyuan and character of “no anger and self-esteem” had a deep influence on him.
In autumn 2013, Beijing People’s Art rehearsed and performed “Xiaojing Hutong”. Zheng Rong wrote a letter to the director Yang Lixin after watching it, firmly confirming the shape of people. “He has always been a staunch defender of theater style, calling for the creation of real people on stage.” said Yang Lixin.
based on a solid life
In 2005, to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the victory of the World Anti-Fascist War, Beijing Renyi re-staged the play “The Butcher” and used old actors such as Zhu Xu and Zheng Rong from the first version in 1982.
Ma Xin, then the Party Committee Secretary of the theater, recalled that Zheng Rong carefully took a treasure in the group building meeting: a martyr’s diary. Chongqing had just been liberated at the end of 1949. Zheng Rong, who was involved in a progressive drama, entered Zhazidong alone, and was very surprised when he saw the tragic scene, and brought the this diary of a martyr back from the scene.
“To allow young actors to experience the atmosphere of the war years as soon as possible, Professor Zheng Rong brought the relic of this martyr that has been treasured for 56 years, and many comrades were shocked.” Ma Xin said, “He always insists that artistic creation must be based on a solid foundation. Life is the basis, and only artistic images that spring from life and are rooted in life can have long-lasting penetrating power.”
In 2012, the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Beijing People’s Art Institute, the original play “Jiaziyuan”, the legacy relationship embodied by the five generations of actors in the same room became a good story for a while.
Tang Ye, one of the directors, remembered that Zheng Rong, who was 88 years old at the time, played the role of the old Red Army in the play. Although he could only perform in a wheelchair, he still to ask to go to a nursing home to experience life; the first time he went there, he was a bit of a flyer, so he visited alone The former Red Army Wang Dinglie listened to him talk about his experience, felt his emotions, and even borrowed some of Wang Dinglie’s actions in the drama.
“He said that by visiting the old Red Army, the characters gradually took root in his heart. Acting must find the feeling in the heart, and the play must reflect the life of right and cannot be isolated from reality.” Tang Ye said.
In 2017, Tang Ye served as the director of the rerun of “Guan Hanqing”. Zheng Rong said after watching the rehearsal, “The stage of the drama should still focus on people, revealing the thoughts and feelings of the characters, and creating vivid characters.”
Practice the spirit of “drama is bigger than the sky” for life
In December 2022, the day before Zheng Rong died, he was still muttering to himself on the sick bed: “Give me clothes and shoes quickly, I have to go to a show, I have still drama.”
At the memorial service, Zheng Rong’s wife, Chen Xiuying, recounted this scene with tears in her eyes. Zheng Rong was about to fall asleep after being excited by his family, and said, “No… I have to go back to the theater, and I have to practice. How can I perform without practice?”
“Ms Zheng Rong is a model of the spirit of Beijing People’s Arts, and she represents the noble quality of the older generation of theater artists who consider art as their life.” Wang Wenguang, Secretary of the Beijing People’s Arts Party Group, said, “He has an open and broad mind, firm and righteous courage, and a simple and generous attitude. His personality, strict and tolerant morality are the annotations of his whole life.”
Pu Cunxin said that Zheng Rong is very moderate in daily life, but when it comes to art, he becomes devoted and strict: he humbly accepts criticism from his colleagues and criticizes them harshly, and he also said in frankly that theaters should not tolerate the conceptualisation. of performances in order to rush dramas and emotional.
“He is full of justice, and he has practiced the spirit of human art ‘drama is greater than the sky’ throughout his life,” said Pu Cunxin.
While engaged in drama creation, Zheng Rong never stopped thinking and researching the art of dialogue drama. At the beginning of the reform and opening, he consciously gathered different characteristics of drama and film and television performances by participating in film and television dramas; at the beginning of the new century, he published an article and presented three proposals. involved in the creation of a play, which raised strong repercussions in the literary and art circles; In 2019, he published the book “On Creating Zheng Rong’s Dramatic Performance”, which summarized the achievements and practice experience of the “Stanislavsky System”.
“Mr Zheng Rong’s dedication to art, endless footprint and noble character has led a generation of young artists to inherit and carry on. He has single-handedly set an example for us, let us work hard, make continuous progress, and achieve the future.” Feng Yuanzheng said.
Responsible Editor: Yu Ying