Yang Chi is a key factor behind the popularity of DPOC. Provided to China Daily
"The fans in Dalian are enthusiastic. They love not only the leading actors but also the extras. They treat all the actors, old or young, famous or not, equally with support," Zhao Zhenjiang, chief editor of Dalian Evening News, the most popular newspaper in the city, says.
Zhao, an enthusiast himself, says even though the fans are familiar with the leaders of the theater, they are not freeloaders.
Some even pay more to support the actors who perform or go to competitions in Beijing, Shanghai or Tianjin.
They also introduced the art to more people. When they see someone who is curious about the opera, they will buy a ticket for him or her to watch a live show.
"You can feel the beauty of Peking Opera when you watch it live. But when you watch it on TV, it is flavorless. Many people become a fan only after seeing a live show," Zhao says.
A fan with the pseudonym Dehui has a column with Dalian Evening News, commenting on Peking Opera and painting cute cartoon images of Peking Opera characters.
Other local newspapers also report frequently on the art. A Sina Weibo user named Jingjuyupincha (meaning "Peking Opera and tea") says he read more than 5,000 related reports in recent years and found Tianjin and Dalian the best among domestic cities in popularizing Peking Opera.
"Newspapers in Dalian report not only on their own actors but also those coming to perform in Dalian from other places," he wrote on his weibo.
Last year, Dalian government allocated 120 million yuan ($19.6 million) for the theater to create new plays, cultivate talents, and buy costumes, according to Yan Jianfu, party secretary of the theater.
The theater tries to provide opportunities for young actors.
Besides the Saturday performances, it invites at least one famous artist to perform at the Hongji Stage every month.