Ma Ke

Ma Ke
b. October 1930, Hebei
Theatre director
Ma Ke is one of the most influential and prolific Xiqu (sung-drama/opera) directors working in the post-Cultural Revolution era. Trained as a Jingju (Peking opera) actor at the Voice of China Theatre School (Xiasheng jushe) in Xi’an, Ma specialized in the martial-male (wusheng) and comicmale (chou) role types, gained extensive stage experience, and graduated in 1949. He then acted for two years in a People’s Liberation Army ‘Little Sister Theatre Troupe’ (Meimei jutuan), and in 1951 became one of the core members of the newly formed East China Jingju Troupe (Huadong jingjutuan), later to become the Shanghai Jingju Company (Shanghai jingjuyuan), where Ma continues to be based.
Ma was one of the first actors to direct Jingju. In 1954 the master actor Zhou Xinfang wanted to experiment with working under a director, and chose Ma to serve as the director for his new production, Wen Tianxiang (the eponymous Song dynasty official). Zhou then arranged for Ma to study directing at the Shanghai Xiju Academy (Shanghai xiju xueyuan), a Huaju (spoken drama) training academy where he was introduced to the Stanislavsky system of acting by teachers from the Soviet Union. Ma then directed the modern Jingju Red Thunderstorm (Hongse fengbao) in 1958; it exerted a seminal influence on succeeding modern Jingju production.
Ma has directed over eighty productions of newly written historical and contemporary plays, primarily in the Jingju form but also in many other forms of Xiqu as well as Geju (song-drama) and Huaju (spoken drama). Among his major achievements are the Jingju productions Cave of the Coiled Webs (Pansi dong, 1986), Cao Cao and Yang Xiu (Cao Cao yü Yang Xiu, 1988) and Dream of the King of Qi (Qiwang meng, 1996), based on Shakespeare’s King Lear. Since the early 1990s, Ma has also co-directed several productions in Europe, collaborating with Swedish theatre artist Peter Oskarson.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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