Feature Articles

Looking into Family Sexuality Education through Cantonese Opera

Ref Number: ACSE2010_CP

  • Date12 Aug 2010
  • Category Articles
  • TargetsN/A
  • AuthorACSE IV
  • Topic Family Sexuality Education

Cantonese opera is one of the performing arts of traditional Chinese culture. It has high value of appreciation, at the same time can also reflect social culture and norms. The cultural performance is specially arranged for the conference. The story of the Cantonese opera “The Dream of the West Chamber"" – Part 2 “the Illusion” can demonstrate how family sexual values and social class concept might influence the love and marriage of the next generations.


About the story

 “The Dream of the West Chamber”was written by Tong Dik Sang in 1958. The story is about a leading courtesan Mu Suhui admires the talent of Yu Shuye. The two then take an oath of marriage. After learning about the love affair, Shuye’s father barges into the brothel and admonishes his son for loving a prostitute. That night, Yu’s father comes to the study and warns him with eight maxims on the heartlessness of prostitutes:

The romantic love that people are longing for is fake, as no prostitutes will be truly in love with others. Not only did you waste money, but also made people to gossip behind you when you paid visits to brothel. And how do you know these prostitutes are virgins who are chased by men in town? They attract lots of men to come and visit them, but the reality is, the girls might invite you in and talk about getting married with you today. But they might not even serve you with tea tomorrow.”.

Yu was forced to study and memorize the eight maxims. That night, Yu receives a letter from Mu but with a blank paper inside only. Affected by his father’s teaching,  Yu considers the blank paper as a sign from Mu that she has broken off their engagement. Later on, while experiencing an out-of-body state, Yu dreams that Mu has denied the oath. Once conscious, Yu decides his father is right and tears the blank paper into pieces, indicating a break up with Mu…


Performers and Musicians


Performers include So Chi-ling(Mu Suhui), Chan Chak-lui (Yu Shuye), Li Ming-hang (Yu Xuebing),Law Chin-mei (Wenpau)and Wang Kit-ching, Karen (Yinhuang), while musicians include Prof Yu Siu-wah, Ho Kang-ming, Chan Chi-chun, Chan Pui-lun and Yau Oi-man. The passionate Scholar Yu Shuye was performed as vivid as life by Dr Chan, who suspected the love of Suhui because of the words of his father, and even misbelieved the ‘dream’and almost lost his love. The audience was fascinated by the superb performance of performers and was dwelled upon with great relish. The brilliant performance had left the audience nothing but good impressions.


The performance had helped generate the discussion led by Ms. Cathy Cheng: What are the messages conveyed by the story? What is illusory about the dream? What are the effects of the teaching on the son? What can we learn from the scenario?  Apart from appreciating the traditional Chinese performing arts, audiences can also have a chance to reflect on the contemporary concepts of family sexuality education.