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The Columbia Anthology of Modern Chinese Drama

The Columbia Anthology of Modern Chinese Drama

Edited, with a critical introduction, by Xiaomei Chen
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 1120
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  • Book Info
    The Columbia Anthology of Modern Chinese Drama
    Book Description:

    The first of its kind in English, this anthology translates twenty-two popular Chinese plays published between 1919 and 2000, accompanied by a critical introduction to the historical, cultural, and aesthetic evolution of twentieth-century Chinese spoken drama. Primarily comprising works from the People's Republic of China, though including representative plays from Hong Kong and Taiwan, this collection not only showcases the revolutionary rethinking of Chinese theater and performance that began in the late Qing dynasty. It also highlights the formation of Chinese national and gender identities during a period of tremendous social and political change, along with the genesis of contemporary attitudes toward the West.

    Early twentieth-century Chinese drama embodies the uncertainty and anxiety brought on by modernism, socialism, political conflict, and war. After 1949, PRC theater painted a complex portrait of the rise of communism in China, with the ideals of Chinese socialism juxtaposed against the sacrifices made for a new society. The Cultural Revolution promoted a "model theater" cultivated from the achievements of earlier, leftist spoken drama, even though this theater arose from the destruction of old culture. Post-Mao drama addresses the socialist legacy and the attempts of a wounded nation to reexamine its cultural roots. Taiwan's spoken drama synthesizes regional and foreign traditions, and Hong Kong's spoken drama sparkles as a hybrid of Chinese and Western influences. Immensely valuable for cross-disciplinary, comparative, and performance study, this anthology provides essential perspective on China's theatricality and representation of political life.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-52160-4
    Subjects: Performing Arts, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    (pp. 1-56)

    Having taught modern Chinese spoken drama (huaju) in an American classroom for the past twenty years, I have found it possible to put together an anthology with what I believe to be the best, most popular dramatic texts, texts well received by students of diverse cultural and language backgrounds. In compiling this volume for general readers and students of Chinese culture alike, I followed three interlocking criteria. My strategy was to situate this anthology first in the context of modern Chinese literary and cultural history under local and global circumstances, and second in the context of comparative drama and theater....

  5. 1. The Main Event in Life (1919)
    (pp. 57-65)
    HU SHI

    Mrs. Tian 田太太

    Fortune-Teller 算命先生

    Li Ma 李妈

    Miss Tian Yamei 田亚梅

    Mr. Tian 田先生

    (The parlor of the Tian home. There is a door on the left leading to the front door, and a door on the right leading to the dining room. Upstage is a sofa, flanked by two armchairs. At center stage there is a small round table with a flower vase on it, flanked by two chairs. There is a small writing desk against the left wall.

    The walls are hung with scrolls of Chinese paintings and calligraphy, along with two Dutch-style landscape paintings. This East-meets-West...

  6. 2. Yama Zhao (1922)
    (pp. 66-96)

    Zhao Da (Yama Zhao) 赵大 (赵阎王), a soldier, orderly of the Battalion Commander

    Lao Li, a soldier 老李

    Xiao Ma 小马, a guard

    Battalion Commander 营长

    Others: soldiers, figures in black, a county magistrate of the Qing dynasty, several guards, an old man, a woman, a foreigner, the foreigner’s lackey, bandits

    (The action occurs in a military camp located in a deserted village in the early 1920s. The village is not far from a crowded, bustling town with thousands of inhabitants. Aside from a small grocery and five hundred soldiers, the village is empty. Since the weather is cold, everyone...

  7. 3. The Night the Tiger Was Caught (1922–1923)
    (pp. 97-114)

    Mr. Wei 魏福生, a wealthy hunter

    Mrs. Wei 魏黄氏, his wife

    Lotus 莲姑, their only daughter

    Grandmother 魏胡氏, Lotus’s paternal grandmother

    Sheriff Li 李东阳, their neighbor, a local sheriff

    Farmer He 何维贵, Li’s relative

    Crazy Huang 黄大傻, Lotus’s male, older cousin, a poor beggar

    Butcher 屠大, Third Zhou 周三, Second Li 李二, hired hands employed by the Wei family

    Time: A winter evening, not long after the Republican Revolution of 1911

    Place: A village in the Xian Gu mountains, east of the city of Changsha

    (A “fireplace room” within the Weis’ home. The fireplace room is where people who live....

  8. 4. After Returning Home (1922)
    (pp. 115-136)

    Lu Zhiping 陆治平, a college student in New York

    Wu Zifang 吴自芳, Lu Zhiping’s wife

    Lu Qichang 陆期昌, Lu Zhiping’s father

    Grandmother (Mrs. Gu 顾氏), Lu Zhiping’s grandmother

    Wu Youshu 吴有述, Wu Zifang’s father

    Mary Liu 刘玛利, Lu Zhiping’s second wife

    Lao Chen 老陈, a hired hand

    Zhang Ma 张妈, a female servant

    Third Wang 王三, a village farmer

    Villagers, Children

    Time: Autumn

    Place: Hunan province

    (This modest, one-story home belongs to a well-to-do family in rural China. A large entrance is located at the home’s center. There are trees behind the house. The main road into town runs along...

  9. 5. A Wasp (1923)
    (pp. 137-151)

    Madame Ji 吉老太太, a woman in her fifties with a slight figure and a strong constitution. Her clothing is plain and modest but extremely clean.

    Mr. Ji 吉先生, Madame Ji’s son, a young man, aged twenty-six or twenty-seven. He has a strong physique and a lively disposition. He is dressed in a very ordinary, casual style.

    Miss Yu 奈小姐, a young woman, aged twenty-five or twenty-six. She has a pretty appearance and a highly expressive face. She is dressed exquisitely.

    Servant 仆人

    (A small, rectangular room. In the middle of the rear wall is a set of wide double doors....

  10. 6. Oppression (1925)
    (pp. 152-164)

    This short play is dedicated to you. Although I cannot say for sure if the affable disposition of the protagonist was suggested by your good nature, the plot of this play is indeed based on something that happened to you. As you no doubt recall, last winter you were planning to move out and find an apartment of your own. One evening, we were all sitting by the heating stove, huddled together to keep warm. When your moving plans came up, we joked that if you didn’t get married, you would definitely not be able to find a place, because,...

  11. 7. Breaking Out of Ghost Pagoda (1928)
    (pp. 165-226)

    Hu Rongsheng 胡荣生, a despotic landlord

    Hu Qiaoming 胡巧鸣, his son

    Zheng Shaomei 郑少梅, his pampered concubine

    Xiao Yuelin 萧月林, his adopted daughter

    Xiao Sen 萧森, a Women’s Federation committee member

    Ling Xia 凌侠, a Peasants’ Association committee member

    Gui Yi 贵一, an old accountant

    Hongtao 红桃, a servant girl

    Lingxiang 灵香, a servant girl

    Chunhua 春花, a servant girl

    Policeman 警察

    Jailor 狱监

    Dark Shadow 1 (Xiao Sen)

    Dark Shadow 2

    Peasants 农民 (five people)

    Committee Members 委员 (four people)

    Male Servants 男仆 (five people)

    Female Servants 女工 (seven people)

    Act 1: A Western-style parlor outside the city


  12. 8. Thunderstorm (1934)
    (pp. 227-352)
    CAO YU

    Prologue: In an unusual lounge of a church-affiliated hospital, on a winter afternoon

    Act 1: Ten years ago, on a sultry summer morning; in the drawing room of the Zhou residence, identical with the hospital lounge in the prologue, with more or less the same setting

    Act 2: The same place as in act 1, the afternoon of the same day

    Act 3: In the small inner room at the Lus’, around ten o’clock that evening

    Act 4: In the Zhous’ drawing room, the same as in act 1; around two that night

    Epilogue: Back to ten years later, on...

  13. 9. It’s Only Spring (1934)
    (pp. 353-396)

    Police Chief 警察斤斤长, forty or more years of age

    His Wife 斤长夫人, approaching thirty years of age

    Headmistress of a primary school for girls 女子小学校长, the wife’s cousin, unmarried, aged thirty or so

    Wang Yicheng 王彝丞, secretary to the Police Chief, about thirty years of age

    Bai Zhenshan 白振山, a spy, about fifty years of age

    Feng Yunping 冯允平, aged about thirty

    Manservant 男仆

    Place: Beiping¹

    Period: One spring, during the Northern Expedition²

    Time: Act 1: one afternoon, act 2: the next afternoon, act 3: the following morning

    (A sumptuous living room furnished comfortably and strikingly in the modern style....

  14. 10. Under Shanghai Eaves (1937)
    (pp. 397-447)

    Lin Zhicheng 林志成, sublessor of the lane house, thirty-six years old

    Yang Caiyu 杨彩玉, Lin Zhicheng’s wife, thirty-two years old

    Kuang Fu 匡复, Yang Caiyu’s former husband, thirty-four years old

    Baozhen 葆珍, Yang Caiyu’s daughter by Kuang Fu, twelve years old

    Huang Jiamei 黃家楣, garret tenant, twenty-eight years old

    Guifen 桂芬, Huang’s wife, twenty-four years old

    Huang’s Father, 黃父, fifty-eight years old

    Shi Xiaobao 施小宝, tenant of the front room upstairs, twenty-seven years old

    “Little Tianjin” 小夭津, Shi Xiaobao’s pimp, in his thirties

    Zhao Zhenyu 赵振宇, tenant of the scullery, forty-eight years old

    Zhao’s wife 赵妻, forty-two years old


  15. 11. Return on a Snowy Night (1942)
    (pp. 448-546)

    Li Rongsheng 李蓉生

    Wang Xingui (man seen through the window) 王新贵—即窗內的男子

    Auntie Ma 馬大婶

    Chen Xiang 陈祥

    in Wei Liansheng (sick man who collapses in the snow) 魏莲生—倒在雪里 的病人

    Clown 小丑

    Su Hongji 苏弘基

    Xu Fucheng 捺辅成

    Miss Zhang 章小姐

    Miss Yu 俞小姐

    Yuchun 玉春

    Orchid 兰儿

    Ma Ershazi 马二傻子

    First Beggar Boy 乞儿甲

    Second Beggar Boy 乞儿乙

    Little Orchid (servant girl seen through the window) 小兰—即窗内的丫环

    Prologue: The garden of a rich man at twilight after a snowfall

    Act 1: Backstage at an opera house on a spring evening

    Act 2: The following evening in a...

  16. 12. Teahouse (1958)
    (pp. 547-597)

    Silly Yang 杨大傻, a male professional beggar who goes from shop to shop reciting improvised doggerel

    Wang Lifa 王利发, when we first see him, in act 1, he is only a little over twenty years old. Though young, he is already the manager of the Yutai Teahouse because of his father’s early death; shrewd, somewhat selfish, but not really bad at heart

    Tang The Oracle 唐铁嘴, a man around thirty years old who makes his living by fortune-telling; an opium addict

    Master Song 松二爷, timid and talkative, in his thirties

    Master Chang 常四爷, a man around thirty years old, upright...

  17. 13. Guan Hanqing (1958)
    (pp. 598-673)

    Mistress Liu 刘大娘, proprietress of a tavern

    Erniu 二妞, her daughter, later called Autumn Swallow

    Guan Hanqing 关汉卿, a prominent playwright during the Yuan dynasty, also known as Jizhai

    Xie Xiaoshan 谢小山, a member of the literary society, an artist, and authority on folk songs of the Jin dynasty

    Qian Shuaqiao 欠耍俏, an actor, later Sai Lianxiu’s husband

    Young Lord 公子, Akham’s twenty-fifth son

    Henchman 歪帽子, addressed as Fourth Master Cui by Mistress Liu

    Zhu Lianxiu 朱帘秀, a famous entertainer and actress

    Xianggui 香桂, her maidservant

    Yan Shanxiu 燕山秀, Zhu Lianxiu’s pupil

    Ma Er 马二, Yan Shanxiu’s husband

    Sai Lianxiu...

  18. 14. The Young Generation (1965)
    (pp. 674-731)

    Xiao Jiye 肖继业 male, twenty-seven, graduate of the Geology College, member of a prospecting team

    Grandma Xiao 肖奶奶, about seventy, retired factory worker, Xiao Jiye’s grandmother

    Lin Yusheng 林育生 male, twenty-four, graduate of the Geology College

    Lin Jian 林坚, over fifty, Lin Yusheng’s foster father

    Xia Shujuan 夏淑娟, over forty, Lin Jian’s wife and Lin Yusheng’s foster mother

    Lin Lan 林岚, seventeen, soon to graduate from senior high school, Lin Jian and Xia Shujuan’s daughter

    Xia Qianru 夏倩如, twenty-three, Xia Shujuan’s niece, soon to graduate from the Geology College, has been living with the Lins

    Li Rongsheng 李榮生, male, sixteen,...

  19. 15. The Red Lantern (1970)
    (pp. 732-768)

    Li Yuhe 李玉和, railway switchman, member of the Chinese Communist Party

    Tiemei 铁梅, Li Yuhe’s daughter

    Grandmother Li 李奶奶, Li Yuhe’s mother

    Messenger 交通员, messenger for the Eighth Route Army’s Pine Mountain base of operations

    Knife Maker 磨刀人, guerrilla platoon leader of the Eighth Route Army in the Cypress Mountains

    Huilian 慧莲, Li Yuhe’s neighbor

    Aunt Tian 田大婶, Huilian’s mother-in-law

    Eighth route army cypress mountain guerrilla captain 八路军柏山 游击队队长

    Various guerrilla soldiers 游击队员若干人

    Woman selling rice porridge 卖粥大嫂

    Girl selling cigarettes 卖烟女孩

    Workers a, b, c, d 喝粥的劳动群众甲, 乙, 丙, 丁, customers at the rice porridge stall

    Hatoyama 鸠山, captain...

  20. 16. The Bus Stop (1983)
    (pp. 769-804)

    Silent man 沉默的人, a middle-aged man

    Old man 大爷, in his sixties

    Girl 姑娘, twenty-eight years old

    Hothead 愣小子, nineteen years old

    Glasses 戴眼镜的, thirty years old

    Mother 母亲, forty years old

    Carpenter 师傅, forty-five years old

    Director Ma 马主任, fifty years old

    (The ages listed represent each character’s age at his or her first appearance.)

    Place: A bus stop in the suburb of a city

    (A bus-stop sign stands in the middle of the stage. The words on the sign are no longer legible due to years of exposure to the elements. Beside the bus-stop sign are two rows...

  21. 17. Wilderness and Man (1988)
    (pp. 805-878)

    Time: The space between two faiths

    Place: The Kingdom of Luoma Lake, an illusory kingdom of the mind, situated on a virgin plain of wilderness

    Big Man Yu 于大个子, forty-something, 1.59 meters tall. Nicknamed big man Yu, né Yu Changshun 于常顺. The king of the Kingdom of Luoma Lake

    Heizi 黑子, one of big man Yu’s dogs

    Li Changhe 李长河, in his fifties. Formerly the “big teakettle”¹ at a brothel in a little seaside town. Crafty, with a twisted, sadistic attitude toward life

    Ma Zhaoxin 马兆新, a young fellow, crude and impetuous, labeled a traitor

    Ma Zhaoxin fifteen years later...

  22. 18. Geologists (1995)
    (pp. 879-926)

    Time: 1961 to 1994

    Place: An apartment in Building 38, across the broad thoroughfare that runs in front of the train station in Beijing¹

    Luo Ming 洛明, male, nicknamed “Camel”²

    Luo Dasheng 罗大生, male

    Lu Jing 芦敬, female

    Qu Dan 曲丹, female

    Liu Ren 刘仁, male

    Tie Ying 铁英, female

    Letter carrier 送信人, female

    Inside an apartment, the residence of a former geologist, in a building on the wide thoroughfare that runs in front of the Beijing train station. Plainly visible from the fourth-floor window is the face of the large clock over the station, the gongs from which are...

  23. 19. Che Guevara (2000)
    (pp. 927-966)

    Please believe in this person, forever impassioned by the kindness of the poor;

    Please believe in this person, inspired to ceaseless travails by the blessings of the poor;

    Please believe in this person, who bid farewell to the past and gave his life to the future of the poor.

    (The characters within the play are largely symbols of concepts and do not have a fixed relationship to specific roles. A particular role, for example, can be assumed by character I just as well as by character III, et al. This is especially true for a number of the longer recited...

  24. 20. Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land (1986)
    (pp. 967-1025)

    Jiang Binliu 江滨柳, a young man in Shanghai, 1948, also seen as an old man in Taipei, late 1980s

    Yun Zhifan 云之凡, Jiang Binliu’s first love in Shanghai, 1948, also seen as an old woman in Taipei, late 1980s

    Mrs. Jiang 江太太, wife of Jiang Binliu, native Taiwanese, fifteen years younger than him

    Nurse 护士 in the Taipei hospital where Jiang Binliu is bedridden

    Director 导演 of the play Secret Love

    Assistant 助理 to the director, devoted to him

    Stage manager 舞台监督 for Secret Love; heard only as an offstage voice

    Tao 老陶, a fisherman, referred to in Tao Yuanming’s...

  25. 21. Metamorphosis Under the Star (1986)
    (pp. 1026-1038)

    Vincent cabbage 威尔生, a cabbage lives and moves just within the framework of his “base” when he finds himself most relaxed

    Charlotte caterpillar 莎洛蒂

    (Darkness is everywhere. Softly, a spark of light brightens up the dark velarium. Then, a musical note can be heard. After that, another spark of light appears in the velarium, followed by some ringing sound made by the piano. More and more sparks of light appear, accompanied by rhythmic piano notes. It is a clear evening, and all the stars are twinkling disorderedly in the dark velarium. The sparks seem to turn on and off with...

  26. 22. Crown Ourselves with Roses (1988)
    (pp. 1039-1098)

    Act 1: The August Moon Festival in 1955, with Chinese refugees flooding into the colony

    Act 2: The August Moon Festival in 1972, when the colony begins to transform itself into an international metropolis

    Act 3: The August Moon Festival in 1987, when the city is dealing with the prospect of being returned to China

    The waterfront of Hong Kong Island. The entire play takes place at the same location on the eastern waterfront of Hong Kong Island. Downstage across is the sea, part of the harbor, stretching toward the audience. Midstage across are lodgings of the local people. In ...

    (pp. 1099-1102)
    (pp. 1103-1106)