Shanshu in Xiaogan City is the folk art form of combining speaking with singing performed by many people on a stage, commonly called ”talking about moral-instruction book”. The performance are mostly cases of punishing evil and promoting good, strengthening the body resistance to eliminate pathogenic factors, with vivid plots and strong stories. Actors are divided into the main actor who speaks as the main speaker and the supporting actor who sings and accompanies. As like talking about daily life of a family, the performance has a strong local flavor and is delicate and vivid. By using pathetic and touching mourning tone, it is impressed by audience with emotion. At every Spring Festival, many villages have set up platform to hire Shanshu artists to perform.
Usually, artists often perform in tea houses in the town. For example, famous artists from Hanchuan such as Wang Haiyuan, Tan Xinchun, Chen Zongfu, Pan Bing and so on often performed in Wuhan or adjacent counties after hanging a sign of “Hanchuan Shanshu”, which was also very popular.
During the Cultural Revolution, Shanshu was classified as “poisonous weeds” and related artists were classified as “monsters and demons”. After 1978, Shanshu performance was restored and developed, a large number of traditional case files were excavated, and a number of new repertoires reflecting real life were created and performed, such as Twin Union, A Story of Plum Blossom, Dagger Case, Flying Pigeon Case, and so on. Some of them won the prize of creation, performance or compilation at the first, second and third Hundred Flowers Book Club in Hubei Province. In recent years, female artists have also participated in performance and accompanied by musical instruments, which makes Hanchuan Shanshu more unique.
Dawu Gushu (Chinese ballad with drum accompaniment), a kind of folk art form transformed from Shanshu, is performed with drum as its main music, alternated with spoken parts and libretto, of which performance form and heroic and bold libretto are quite similar to those of northern Gushu, so it is called “Beiluzi Dagu”. Beiluzi Dagu has simple props, including a small flat drum, a pair of half-moon-shaped steel (or copper) sickles, of which performance is convenient and flexible. The masses call it “one actor, one play, any place is a place of performance”. The more famous drum artists in the county include Yu Shaofu of Jiufanggou, Hu Guanghe of Lijiayuan Village and others.
Storytelling such as Shanshu has a long history in Xiaochang and Yunmeng. Bibliographies are mostly long books on historical stories. Generally, there are tea houses in the sentry box on the level ground in the mountains or hills and in the lanes and bays along the rivers. They are the places where the artists who comment on books are permanently stationed for storytelling.
In addition, Hubei Allegro, Hubei Lento, Fish Drum (a percussion instrument made of bamboo), Daoqing (a form of folk art), Lianhualuo (popular (Chinese) song or melody), Crosstalk, Oral Stunts and Free Talk, popular with middle-aged and elderly audiences, are performed at a small number of places in Xiaogan City.