PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 February, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 02 February, 1996, 12:00am

I FULLY agree with your correspondent T. Chau (South China Morning Post, January 29), who is angry over the cruel treatment of youngsters who want to be performers in Peking operas.

I also saw the TVB news item on January 23, showing the young performers being repeatedly hit on the head by the trainers. I thought it was disgusting.

Actually, this gives only a glimpse of the treatment they endure. When I lived in Beijing I knew some of the Peking opera stars, and they told me that the young trainees (young boys from the rural provinces mostly) were lined up on a regular basis and caned by the trainers.

The canings were usually done on Saturday nights (after the last performance) and the trainers kept a note of the boys' 'mistakes' during the week. Each 'mistake' was counted as a 'black mark' against the boys, and by the end of each week a boy might have accumulated up to 20 or 30 'black marks' and was given an equal number of cane strokes by the trainees (on the bare buttocks).

This cruel treatment is still common, and I for one will never enjoy Peking opera because of this.