Behind the praise of the “People’s Daily” for the digitization of Hangzhou culture – the tone of Feng Theater: Online applause, offline audience
Hangzhou Daily News On June 15, People’s Daily published the article “Embrace New Scenes and Enjoy New Experiences – Decoding Cultural Digitization”. The Hangzhou Opera APP “Feng Theater” appeared as a typical case of cultural digitization. With the model of “Opera + Internet”, the APP “satisfies the needs of vertical users and attracts more young people”, which is highly recognized.
Why did an unpopular opera app attract the attention of the central media? A few days ago, the reporter interviewed Yu Qingfeng, the famous playwright, the head of Feng Theater, to explore the story behind it.
Let traditional opera “live”
“Look, this is the Qin Opera “Three Drops of Blood”, which has been played for 104 years; this is the Hui drama “Psycho”, a combination of Chinese and Western; this is the Yue Opera “Five Women’s Birthday Celebration”, a classic work by Zhejiang Xiaobaihua, which also There are Fujian Opera “Orchid Fu”, Peking Opera “Qianqiu Loyalty”, Hebei Bangzi “New Bao Gong Compensation”… Almost every one is a classic!” Take out your mobile phone, open the “Feng Theater” APP, and point to each play, Yu Qingfeng said, “There are already 27 big dramas on the shelves, and they will continue to increase in the future.”
Yu Qingfeng is well-known as a “gold medal playwright”. He has won the Cao Yu Script Award three times and the Chinese Drama Literature Gold Award twice. Since 2019, he has had a new identity – the founder of Feng Theater. The superposition of the two identities gave him a heavier sense of mission in his heart who has been dealing with opera all the year round. He sighed: “As a practitioner, I admit that I have low self-esteem as opera is gradually unable to integrate into this era.”
It is an indisputable fact that traditional opera faces a crisis. “Although there are still a group of loyal audiences, they are already a minority; the self-hematopoietic ability of the entire industry is lacking, and many dramas are released with great momentum. One loss will soon die.”
Facing the unsatisfactory situation, Yu Qingfeng shouted the slogan: “Give back the opera to the audience and let the opera return to the market!” Only by winning more audiences and restoring the market’s hematopoietic ability can traditional opera truly “live”. .
“Good tone” activates digital consumption of opera
So, towards the goal of “living”, Yu Qingfeng started a series of attempts at Feng Theater.
The year before last, he launched an offline small theater opera project. In order to reduce costs, he saved to the level of “stingy”, and was dubbed “poverty opera”. The opera props in the small theater are simple. When performing in other places, the actors can fit them in just one suitcase. The low cost and high flexibility allow these small theater operas to basically achieve “self-hematopoiesis” in the market.
Last year, Feng Theater launched the “Good Tone Small Theater Opera Season”. In the context of the epidemic, offline performances are limited. In order to allow more audiences to see their works, Feng Theater has tried online performances, such as Sichuan Opera “Gui Ying and Wang Kui”, Cantonese Opera “Golden Lotus”, Peking Opera “A Misty Rain”…17 This wonderful and good play has made fans overwhelmed by the play and has received constant praise.
This year, Feng Theater took advantage of the trend and launched a new “Good Tone Neoclassical Opera Season” event, collecting outstanding opera works from national opera troupes, and uploading them to the “cloud” for online performances after signing a contract. At present, 27 classic plays by excellent troupes from all over the country have been launched.
Through the “Feng Theater” APP, the audience can enjoy the genuine good show without leaving home. 6.6 yuan can watch a drama video, 9.9 yuan can watch a live broadcast, this kind of price positioning is only the price of a breakfast, but for fans, they can get a rich cultural feast. 40% of the revenue from the online exhibition belongs to the creators of the works. With such a profit sharing, the troupe can obtain a steady stream of box office revenue without paying any extra cost.
This “win-win” model has attracted more and more fans and troupes to participate, and quietly activated the digital consumption of opera in Hangzhou.
the way home
Feeding back the opera stage with online traffic
Yu Qingfeng has a clear understanding of the media’s praise: the “Feng Theater” APP is only a means of disseminating opera in accordance with the trend of the times, not the ultimate goal.
“I always believe that in order to feel the profound charm of opera, one has to enter the theater. After all, opera is the art of singing, reading, and playing, not just arias on the screen of a mobile phone.” In his view, opera embraces the Internet, whether it is live broadcast , short videos, or online APPs, in fact, are all to spread the culture of opera, cultivate more opera audiences, and ultimately serve offline theaters and feed the opera stage.
Therefore, the online performance is actually just the appetizer of “Good Tone Neoclassical Opera Season”, and the main dish is the offline performance and awards ceremony that will be held at the end of the year.
According to reports, after the online performance, the “Good Tone Neoclassical Opera Season” will combine audience votes, expert ratings and box office conditions to select the best actor, the best actress, the best supporting actor, the best actor, and the best actor. 12 awards including Best Supporting Actress and Best Play, and an awards ceremony similar to the drama “Oscar” was held. The 5 works nominated for the best play will be invited to perform offline. At that time, the audience can walk into the theater to experience a different viewing experience from the online performance and enjoy the feast of opera.
“The inheritance of opera needs to be ‘applauded and popular’, and there is an audience and a market in order to be passed on and carried forward. I hope that the peak theater can become a hundred gardens of opera, attracting more audiences to come to opera and feel the charm of opera. The audience can live forever.” Yu Qingfeng said.
Opera Artists’ Keeping “Righteousness” and Creating “New”
Keeping the righteousness and innovation is a hot word in recent years, which means: not only abiding by the righteous path, but also constantly changing and exploring. The practice of Yu Qingfeng and Feng Theater has made me see the spirit of “keeping integrity and innovation” in contemporary opera players.
Because of “innovation”, Yu Qingfeng and his “good tone” have become the focus of media attention. In my opinion, this “new” has three meanings.
Hold “new ideas”. When we talk about opera, we often think of “tradition”. Many people even think that inheriting the “tradition” in a strict manner is what opera should be like. However, in the face of the real crisis in the industry, Yu Qingfeng did not stick to traditional concepts, but boldly broke through and launched new opera forms such as small theater operas and digital operas.
With the help of “new platforms”. In the new era, with the help of new communication channels, he embraced the Internet platform without hesitation and developed the “Feng Theater” APP. Despite the huge initial investment, he even mortgaged the house for this purpose, and it turns out that the new platform has produced a good communication effect.
A “new mode” has been introduced. The operation mode of the “Feng Theater” APP is particularly impressive. On the one hand, the audience can watch high-quality dramas at a low price, on the other hand, the troupe obtains additional long-term benefits through sharing, and this win-win model is full of vitality.
However, the purpose of “innovation” is to “keep upright”. While innovating, Yu Qingfeng kept two “positives”.
Original clear source. In the eyes of others, traditional opera embracing the Internet is an innovation, but in Yu Qingfeng’s view, all innovations revolve around only one theme: to better pass on traditional opera. Inheritance is the “source” of innovation.
Sincerely. For fans, low fares are given; for troupes, a high percentage is given. The traffic generated by the APP did not try to monetize it, but attracted online fans to offline theaters and fed back the opera stage. Isn’t this feeling of not being led by commercial interests the greatest sincerity towards opera?
Traditional opera is facing a crisis, how can opera artists break through? Yu Qingfeng’s practice of keeping “right” and creating “new” may bring some inspiration.