Established in 1929 by Chen Ming-chi (陳明吉), Ming Hwa Yuan is the leading troupe in the performance genre of Taiwanese opera (Kua á hí, 歌仔戲), a locally developed style of drama in Taiwan. After Chen's death, the troupe continued as a family-owned opera presided by Chen's son Chen Sheng-fu (陳勝福). The 8 sub-groups of Ming Hwa Yuan are led by the late Chen's other children.
During the Japanese occupation of Taiwan, Taiwanese opera was banned and only Ming Hwa Yuan and a few groups were allowed to perform. Later in the 1960s under Kuomintang's rule, the troupe had to move from indoor theaters to outdoor stages due to government policy restricting the practice of folk culture. Though Taiwanese opera fell into an overall decline, Ming Hwa Yuan thrived by developing itself into a modernized group while keeping its traditional elements.
In 1983, Ming Hwa Yuan made national headlines by performing the highly acclaimed "Father and Son (父子情深)” and "Ji Gong, the Living Buddha (濟公活佛)” at the National Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, bringing the troupe back from the open to inside the theater.
The 8 sub-groups - Heaven/Tien (天), Earth/Di (地), Black/Shuan (玄), Yellow/Hwang (黃), Sun/Jer (日), Moon/Yue (月), Star/Sin (星), and Dragon/Chan (辰) - dwell in different areas of Taiwan. Each group runs independently but all share the responsibility of performing and advocating the Taiwanese opera and educating the younger generations.
Having survived the rise and fall of Taiwanese opera, Ming Hwa Yuan brings the genre to another level by integrating traditional elements into the modern scene. They intertwine Taiwanese opera with contemporary visual design and sound effects to dramatize their performances, offering grander sound and visual presentation, and making their storylines more understandable through colloquial dialogue.
As one of the most representative theater troupes in Taiwan, Ming Hwa Yuan performs overseas on a regular basis, including Japan, Singapore, Austria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Great Britain, Holland, United States, and South Africa, making the sounds of Taiwan more widely known for over eighty years.