Chinese Theater: From Its Origins to the Present Day by Colin Mackerras

By Colin Mackerras

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Example text

5 This is a simplistic and in some ways inaccurate view, but valuable for its impressions and attempt to rationalize some of the evident inconsistencies in surviving texts.  There was considerable cooperation, indeed, intimate relationships, between early Yuan playwrights and entertainers, so the inconsistencies probably did not arise then.  And I consider myself to have quite mastered the knacks and techniques of the Yuan men.  Moreover, given the complexity of the qu song prosody, it seems likely that his alterations of the core poetry of the plays cannot have been so extensive as to deny posterity a fairly accurate insight into original Yuan compositions, which in any case might not have survived but for him.

A bold, lively exposition of the yuanben.  Paul Elek, London, 1976.  Many secondary aspects that have already been treated extensively in other modern monographs are taken for granted, which poses some problems of reference, but most of the central, theatrical matters are fully presented.  In many ways they have yet to be superseded.  A wideranging and searching appraisal, rightly stressing the importance of the zhugong diao for theater.  He deals with the whole range, into the twentieth century, with lengthy chapters on the earliest periods.

Confucianism being often paternalistic in its political principles, these domestic dramas bore some similarity to the body of dramas on the theme of noble ministers or loyalty to the state or monarch. ” The dramas showed him more benevolent, and he was the hero of many later Chinese tales of detection, the archetype of a judicial Sherlock Holmes.  Some of these plays no doubt gave scope for stage acrobatics.  Disillusionment with power mongering in the short­lived and often troubled Yuan is reflected in the “Taoist” slant of many of these plays, but there is also a delight in the merry or ingenious eccentric and a recognition of his value to society.

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