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Current Location: Homepage » Chinese Reading » People 名人 » Main Body

Ma Sanli – "Crosstalk Master" “相声泰斗”马三立

Profile:Ma Sanli – "Crosstalk Master" “相声泰斗”马三立
Ma Sanli is a people’s artist with both ability and integrity and he is skilled in "Guankou" and Wengen routines. He devoted himself to crosstalk and created distinctive "Ma-style crosstalk" in his artistic life. He is known as the "crosstalk master" who is the oldest in crosstalk circle in terms of age, has the highest seniority, the best qualifications and the greatest attainments, and who is loved and respected by various circles of society and people from all walks of life.
Ma Sanli (1914-2003), of Hui nationality, was born in Yongchang County of Gansu Province. He once served as Consultant of Chinese Ballad Singers Association and Honorary Chairman of Tianjin Ballad Singers Association. Ma Sanli lived in a crosstalk family and grew up in the strong artistic atmosphere. When he was 15, he formally became the pupil of Zhou Deshan, one of "eight famous crosstalk artists". After that, Ma Sanli performed crosstalk at Tianjin Lianxing Tea House, Shengyuan Tea House, Yanle Tea House and Xiaoliyuan (small opera theater), and he also performed in places outside Tianjin, such as Tangshan, Qinhuangdao, Shenyang, Cangzhou, Dezhou, Jinan and Beijing, and he was fortunate enough to perform at the same stage with then famous ballad singers. After joining Xiongdi Troupe in 1941, Ma also performed crosstalk dramas and Beijing Opera (playing female roles). After the victory of the Anti-Japanese War, Ma Sanli continued to perform crosstalk in Beijing and Tianjin. In 1951, he joined Tianjin Hongfeng Chinese Folk Art Association. The next year, he participated in the special performance as an expression of greetings in North Korea. In 1953, he became a member of Tianjin Radio Station Broadcasting Folk Art Association, and he was appointed as Deputy Head of Tianjin Folk Art Troupe in 1956. Since reform and opening up launched in 1978, he dedicated to summing up artistic practices and cultivating promising young people, and made indelible contributions to the cultivation of promising crosstalk successors.
With profound artistic skills, Ma Sanli had a very keen eye to observe social life and was very attentive to taking nourishment from daily life. He stands upright in the Chinese crosstalk art field with his subtle, meaningful, simple, natural and profound artistic style, forming "Ma-style crosstalk" featured by unaffected, stern-faced, funny, well-ordered and exquisite performance with a relaxed appearance but a compacted structure. A number of works he recomposed have become classics and won universal praise, including “Setting up A Porridge Factory”, “A Boast of Residence”, “The Moon Over the West River”, “Tongue Twisters” and “Yellow Crane Tower”. New works created by him, including “Medical Services at State Expense”, “Monkey-purchasing”, “A Meeting-Holic”, “Starting from Ten O' Clock”, “A Bargainer and Familiar People”, are warmly welcomed by generations of general public; among which, “Monkey-purchasing” is applauded by then state leaders including Ma Zedong and Zhou Enlai. In his later years, Ma Sanli continued to seek and explore the crosstalk art unremittingly, and created and performed single crosstalk pieces reflecting real life, like “Pianfang” (folk prescription), “Douniwan” (Kidding You), “the 81st floor”, which have broken fresh ground and have become classic.
Being close to common people, indifferent to fame and wealth, with excellent ability and integrity, and admired by Chinese people, Ma Sanli appears moderate, honest and sincere, and his name is closely linked to Tianjin, loving heart and happiness.
The crosstalk pieces performed by Ma Sanli have been listed into various selected crosstalk collections, and monographs such as “A Collection of Ma Sanli's Crosstalk” and “A Record of Ma Sanli's Artistic Life” have been published. In a word, Ma Sanli has made significant contributions to the development of Chinese crosstalk art.

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