Er'renzhuan (Song and Dance Duet), was also known as "bengbeng". Speaking and singing alternately is the main performing form of this kind of drama.
Er'renzhuan was originally developed on the basis of northeast yanggo dance and lianhualao (a popular song sung to the accompaniment of castanets) and inherit some elements from local performing arts in other forms such as northeast dagu, bangzi, shadow show, etc. The most striking feature of "er'renzhuan" is that "one actor and one actress play a large number of various roles". The players have fans, handkerchiefs and bamboo boards in their hands as stage property and their performance are mainly accompanied with banhu fiddle (a bowed stringed instrument with a thin wooden soundboard), suona horn (a woodwind instrument) and bamboo boards.
Er'renzhuan was a popular small local folk opera in all Northeast China. It started to spread in Jilin Province in the beginning of the 18th century.
After the founding of w China, Bengbeng was renamed er'renzhuan. And local opera groups were set up earlier or later in cities of Siping, Liaoyuan, Jilin, Changchun and Counties of Yushu, Lishu, Dehui, Shuangliao, Fuyu, Zhenlai for the performance of er'renzhuan. In 1960's, Jilin Province made great progress in the construction of er'renzhuan with writing and directing strengthened, a new list of plays opened, music accompaniment richened, costumes improved, dancing and fine arts enriched, hand property developed and changed.
Er'renzhuan's musical forms have been renewed continuously since the reform and opening up to the outside world in 1978. Now dulcimer, pipa (a flucked string instrument with a fretted fingerboard) are added to musical instrument accompaniment. When there is fighting in a play, drums, gongs and cymbals will be used. Also colored umbrellas, gauze kerchiefs and long silk fabric are added to the hand props. Costumes are improved according to the requirements of the creation of typical characters. Change of lighting colors is used to set off play scenes. In brief, the comprehensive artistic quality is increasingly improved.
Some famous actors and actresses are warmly welcomed by the mass, such as Mu Xifa, Li Qingshan, Guan Changrong, Dong Xiaofang, Li Xiaoxia, Qin Zhiping, Zheng Guiyun, Han Ziping. Among the popular Er'renzhuan play list are Splashing Water before Horses, Returning Cups, Lord Bao Bringing Empress to Trial, Lord Bao's Apology, Listening to qin, The West Chamber, Both in Martial Competitions , Feng Kui Selling His Wife and Waters Flooded Lanqiao Bridge. These plays have been existed for a very long period.
The expression means of er'renzhuan is characterized by "four basic trainings and one unique skill". The four basic trainings refer to singing, speaking, playing and dancing. The one unique skill refers to brandishing handkerchiefs, fans, bamboo boards, and etc., which enjoys great reputation domestically and internationally.