Shajiabang (opera)

Shajiabang (Chinese: 沙家浜, also Shachiapang);[1][2] first produced under the title Sparks Amid the Reeds,[3] is a Chinese revolutionary opera and one of the eight "model plays" permitted during the Cultural Revolution.[4][5][6]

Sparks amid the Reeds
Traditional Chinese蘆蕩火種
Simplified Chinese芦荡火种
Image from a 1967 performance of Shajiapang
Red Army commissar Guo Jianguang gestures with a machine pistol; orchestra behind him.


Image from China Pictorial (1967): Sister Aqing hosts two collaborationist officers at her teahouse.

It was first produced as a Shanghai opera entitled Sparks amid the Reeds (芦荡火种) or Emerald Water and Red Flags in 1958 by the Hu Opera Troupe.[7][8] In October 1963, the First Peking Opera Company adapted it as a Peking opera. Mao Zedong saw it in 1964 and asked that the title be changed, as sparks would not set wet reeds alight, so it was named after its setting, the town of Shajiabang ("sands family creek").[9] Jiang Qing (Mao's wife, a leading figure in the Cultural Revolution), insisted that the role of the Red Army political commissar be expanded.[10] The dance routines were also revised, the opera not reaching its final form until 1970.[11][7] Wang Zengqi also contributed to it.[12][13]


Set during the Second Sino-Japanese War ("War of Resistance", early 1940s) in Japanese-ruled territory west of Shanghai. Shajiabang is a town by Yangcheng Lake. Sister Aqing runs a teahouse visited by officers of a Chinese collaborationist group; unbeknownst to them, she is a member of the Chinese Communist Party, and is helping wounded soldiers of the New Fourth Army who are hiding in the marshes.


Shajiabang was made into a film in 1971 by the Changchun Film Studio, and the score has also been performed as a "revolutionary symphony."[14]

An exhibition hall of Shajiabang's revolutionary history was opened in 1988, and expanded in 2006.[15][16]


  1. ^ Agency, United States Central Intelligence (February 16, 1966). "Daily Report, Foreign Radio Broadcasts" – via Google Books.
  2. ^ "Shachiapang: A Modern Revolutionary Peking Opera. Rev. Collectively by the Peking Opera Troupe of Peking, May 1970 Script". Foreign Languages Press. February 16, 1972 – via Google Books.
  3. ^ ""Shachiapang": Strive to Portray Proletarian Heroes of People's War". The Drama Review: TDR. 15 (2): 270–273. 1971. doi:10.2307/1144651. JSTOR 1144651 – via JSTOR.
  4. ^ Melvin, Sheila; Cai, Jindong (October 29, 2000). "Why This Nostalgia For Fruits of Chaos?". The New York Times.
  5. ^ "Shajiabang;沙家浜 » Productions 作品 » Digital Library of Chinese Theatre 中国戏剧资料库".
  6. ^ Chen, Xiaomei (January 31, 2002). Acting the Right Part: Political Theater and Popular Drama in Contemporary China. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 9780824824839 – via Google Books.
  7. ^ a b McDougall, Bonnie S. (May 18, 2018). Popular Chinese Literature and Performing Arts in the People's Republic of China, 1949-1979. Univ of California Press. ISBN 9780520301917 – via Google Books.
  8. ^ "Opera gives delta town a reason to be proud -".
  9. ^ Institute (U.S.), Defense Language (February 16, 1977). "Elementary Chinese". Defense Language Institute – via Google Books.
  10. ^ Yaping, Ding (October 26, 2021). General History of Chinese Film II: 1949–1976. Routledge. ISBN 9781000434873 – via Google Books.
  11. ^ "Shajiabang -".
  12. ^ Encyclopedia of China, Vol. 22 (2nd edition, 中国大百科全书(第二版)第22册). Encyclopedia of China Publishing House. 2009. pp. 576–577. ISBN 978-7-500-07958-3.
  13. ^ Deng, Youmei. "漫忆汪曾祺". Free Forum of Literature (文学自由谈) (in Chinese). 1997 (5): 98–105.
  14. ^ Chingchih, Liu (July 20, 2010). A Critical History of New Music in China. The Chinese University of Hong Kong Press. ISBN 9789629969707 – via Google Books.
  15. ^ "Memorial Hall of Shajiabang Revolutionary History".
  16. ^ Denton, Kirk A. (December 31, 2013). Exhibiting the Past: Historical Memory and the Politics of Museums in Postsocialist China. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 9780824840068 – via Google Books.

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