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Lecture 3 - Zhang Jiqing, “The Mad Dream” (“Chimeng” 癡夢) from Lanke Mountain (Lanke shan 爛柯山)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 January 2023

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Summary

Recorded 11 March 2010

Translated and annotated by Josh Stenberg

Lecturer

Zhang Jiqing 張繼青 (1939–2022), like her husband Yao Jikun 姚繼焜 [Appendix H], was a member of the post-war “ji” 繼 generation of students of the Jiangsu Company. Zhang had a successful early career before the Cultural Revolution, but reached her greatest fame in the post-Mao reform and opening years, winning an inaugural national Plum Blossom Prize (Meihua jiang 梅花獎) in 1984. Her performances in Europe and Japan in the 1980s and 1990s played a major role in building kunqu's 崑曲 international profile. This lecture concerns one of kunqu's great dream scenes and by far the most bitter. Along with “The Dream Interrupted” (“Jingmeng” 驚夢) and “Seeking the Dream” (“Xunmeng” 尋夢) (both from The Peony Pavilion [Mudan ting 牡丹亭] [Appendix F]), this is one of the performances that earned Zhang Jiqing the nickname “Three Dreams Zhang” (Zhang Sanmeng 張三夢). The role she is describing in this lecture belongs to the zhengdan 正旦 type but her performance as Du Liniang 杜麗娘 in The Peony Pavilion, captured in a 1986 film, has become an equally enduring standard for the younger and more innocent guimendan 閨門旦.

Synopsis

The story of Lanke Mountain, also known as Zhu Maichen Divorces His Wife (Zhu Maichen xiuqi 朱買臣休妻), has its origins in the biography of the actual Han dynasty official Zhu Maichen. The narrative has a long pedigree on the Chinese stage and continues to be popular in various genres. However, no full chuanqi 傳奇 script is extant, nor is an author known, though key scenes feature in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century collections. The story concerns Zhu's wife Cui-shi 崔氏, who, frustrated by unfulfilled promises of an end to their poverty, demands and receives a divorce from Zhu (“Divorce under Duress” [“Bixiu” 逼休]). However, her remarriage to Carpenter Zhang 張木匠 is a bitter disappointment (“Regretting Remarriage” [“Huijia” 悔嫁]).

In “The Mad Dream” (“Chimeng” 痴夢), Cui-shi learns that Zhu's learning has been recognized and he has been appointed to an official post.

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Publisher: Anthem Press
Print publication year: 2022

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