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Lecture 11 - Liang Guyin, “The Tryst” (“Jiaqi” 佳期) from The Western Chamber (Xixiang ji 西廂記)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 January 2023

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Summary

Recorded 14 March 2010

Translated and annotated by Josh Stenberg

Lecturer

Liang Guyin 梁谷音 (b. 1942) is a performer in the Shanghai Troupe, admired for her portrayals of zhengdan 正旦 and liudan 六旦 roles, including celebrated performances as transgressive women such as Yan Poxi 閻婆惜 from The Water Margin Chronicle (Shuihu ji 水滸記) and Pan Jinlian 潘金蓮 from The Noble Knight-Errant (Yixia ji 義俠 記) [both Appendix F]. Professor Harold Shadick of Yenching and Cornell universities noted of a 1986 performance that Liang “displays an incredible intensity and variety of emotion as her singing and gesturing give expression to anger, bitterness, tenderness, piteousness, sorrow and despair” (Shadick 1986, 162), though she is equally noted for playful roles such as the one she describes here.

Synopsis

The Western Chamber (Xixiang ji 西廂記) tells the love story of a talented scholar and beautiful young woman. Though the narrative ended badly when it first appeared as a literary tale in the Tang, it has been treated predominantly as a comedy since a chantefable version by Dong Jieyuan 董解元 appeared in 1200 (Lorraine Dong 1978; Geng Song 2004, 25). Various dramatic versions followed in later centuries, with a version by Wang Shifu 王實甫, composed of five successive zaju 雜劇 scripts, becoming a canonical literary text. As Liang explains, the kunqu Western Chamber, however, is based not on Wang's drama but on an early sixteenth-century chuanqi 傳奇 drama by Li Rihua 李日華, known as the “southern” Western Chamber. The Li version is thought to be a redaction of a lost text by Cui Shipei 崔時佩 [all Appendix G] (Ling Hon Lam 2005, 369).

The name of the heroine, Cui Yingying 崔鶯鶯, is stable from the beginning, while the young man is originally and still mainly known by his surname, Zhang 張. In the Wang and Li versions he becomes Zhang Gong 張珙, but most often he is referred to simply as Student Zhang 張生.

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Publisher: Anthem Press
Print publication year: 2022

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