Kunqu Performance

Joys of the Fishermen: “Escape by Boat"
【漁家樂: 藏舟】

The Water Marsh:  “Snatched by a Ghost”
【水滸記: 借茶、活捉】

Sunday, May 7, 2006, 7:00 pm
Claudia Cassidy Theater, Chicago Cultural Center
78 E. Washington St., Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 744-6630  
Chicago Cultural Center

This program is organized by the University of Chicago and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs. 
Admission is Free

Cast Musicians Synopsis

Meet the Artists

Production Staff  


Joys of the Fishermen: “Hiding in the Boat” (Cang Zhou)

Sunset: Liang Guyin  梁谷音

Prince Liu:

Wen Yuhang  溫宇航

“Borrowing Tea” and “Taking a Life” (Jie Cha & Huo Zhuo)

Zhang Wenyuan (Sanlang): Lui Yilong     劉異龍
Yan Xijiao: Liang Guying  梁谷音


Kunqu Flute (Dizi):

Huang Chenglin 黃承林
Drum and Clappers: Huang Shirong   黃世榮
San Xian/Large Gong:: Wang Linsong    王林松
Er Hu: Guo Jinqiang      郭景強
Zhong Hu: Xia Wen Jie        夏文傑
Small Gong: Song Bairu          宋百如
Cymbols: Zhou Wenhui       周文慧

Production Staff

Producer: Tong-Ching Chang
Co-producer: Charle Wilson
Program Manager: Yuan Yucheng
Make-up and Costumes: Yang Guiyin
Surtitles: Wen Yuhang
  Tong-Ching Chang
Libretto Translation: Tak Kin Chu
Video Camera: Charles Wilson

* Thanks to Professor Chang Jingcheng, Ms. Chen Santzu, and Mr. Wu Dongshen of
Pong Yi Qu Ji (蓬瀛曲集) in Taiwan, for helping the preparation and interpretation of Chinese librettos.


Joys of the Fishermen: Escape by Boat
The story takes place at the end of the Eastern Han Dynasty (126-144 AD). Councilor Liang Yi, the brother of the Dowager Empress, has murdered the eleven year-old young emperor, and is planning to usurp the throne. When he learns that Prince Liu, heir to the throne, has fled the palace, he orders his troops to capture the prince. In pursuit of the prince, the troops accidentally shoot fisherman Wu instead.

The scene begins with Sunset, Fisherman Wu’s daughter, returning to her boat just after she has buried her father. She is shocked to find a young man hiding inside. During their dialogue, she learns that he is Prince Liu and that her father has died in his place. Full of grief and anger, she vows to seek revenge on Councilor Liang. She offers to help the prince in his escape, and the two agree to act as husband and wife – in name only. The prince is moved by her generosity and vows to name her the empress should he reclaim the throne and become emperor.

The Water Margin: Snatched by a Ghost
The play is derived from an episode of the Chinese classic, The Water Margin. Yan Xijiao is a concubine of Song Jiang, a low-ranking official. In the first scene, Yan meets Zhang Wenyuan (also called Sanlang) who is attracted by her beauty when he passes by her front door while strolling down the street. He approaches Yan to ask for a drink and the two exchange small talk while she serves him tea. The story goes on behind the scene. Yan falls in love with Zhang and the two are soon engaged in an adulterous relationship. One day she inadvertently discovers that her husband Song is secretly involved with bandits. When Yan threatens to report him to the authorities, Song Jiang kills her. However, her spirit refuses to leave the place between the living and the dead until she has Zhang to keep her company.

In the second scene, Yan’s ghost visits her former lover Zhang Wenyuan in the middle of the night. When Zhang realizes that this is the ghost of Yan, he becomes frightened -- yet still finds her attractive. By means of amorous dialogue and gestures, she finally captures Zhang’s sprit and takes him down to the Netherworld.

The actress playing Yan shows that she is a 'ghost' by employing various stylized movements such as the 'ghost walk'. The actor playing Zhang performs several technically difficult movements, including the “change face” trick.

Meet the Artists

Liang Guyin is a National Class One performer and a graduate of the Shanghai City Chinese Xiqu School, specializes in the Dan (female) role type and was trained in the style of Zhang Chuanfang and Shen Chuanzhi. She was a recipient of the 3rd Plum Blossom Award for Chinese Theatre, the Star Award at the 1st and 5th Bai Yulan Performing Arts Award for Shanghai Theatre and the Baogang Beaux Arts Award for Performance. She is currently a member of the Chinese Dramatists’ Association and an exco member of the Shanghai Dramatists’ Association.

Liu Yilong is a National Class One performer. He was among the first class of Kunqu actors trained at the Shanghai City Chinese Xiqu School in 1961. He specializes in Chou (comic) and Fu (sly and villainously comic) role types. As a student of the "Chuan" generation of Kunqu performers: Hua Chuanhao, Wang Chuansong and Zhou Chuancang, Liu is a remarkable exponent of the 'comedian art' in Kunqu. He was the winner of the Outstanding Performance Award at the Shanghai Young Performers' Showcase, both the Outstanding Performance Award and the Laurel Award at the Shanghai Theatre Festival, the Best Supporting Role Award at the White Magnolia Awards for Shanghai Theatre, and an Honorable Award for Performance at the China Kunqu Opera Arts Festival. Liu is currently a member of the Chinese Dramatists’ Association and an exco member of the Art of Laughter Society of Shanghai.

Wen Yuhang is a graduate of Beijing Traditional Xiqu School specialized in the Sheng (young scholar) role type.  He was a principal actor in the Northern Kunju Company.  He has performed throughout China, Taiwan and other countries and received awards in the “best performer” category in Chinese Drama competitions.  In 1999, he joined Lincoln Center “Peony Pavilion” Performing Group as the leading actor, portraying Liu Mengmei, the lovelorn young scholar of the romantic masterpiece.  He currently lives in New York.   

Huang Chenglin is proficient not only in all major wen-chen (wind and string) instruments but also several wu-chen (percussion) instruments. Mr. Huang is a popular musician in both Kunqu Theater and Beijing Opera. As a member of  Chinese traditional music orchestra of The Peony Pavilion at the Lincoln Center's 1999 Festival in New York, he has toured  to Australia, France, and Italy. 

Huang Shirong is a graduate of the Shanghai Chinese Drama School. Mr. Huang served as the conductor of the Shanghai Beijing Opera Troupe for over 30 years. Several of the productions he conducted as lead drummer won national awards in China. 

Wang Linsong is a master of several popular string instruments. He was a resident musician and taught San-hsian in Shanghai Yueju Company.  Mr. Wang  is a member of Ensemble of the Peony Pavilion, which performed at the 1999 Lincoln Center Festival and later in Australia, France, and Italy.

Guo Jingqiang is a graduate of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music where he studied erhu with Wei Zhong-Le, Lu Xiu-Tong and Chen Jun-Ying and has been a member of the Shanghai Orchestra, the Shanghai Philharmonic and the Shanghai Traditional Chinese Music Orchestra. His tours in Japan and Singapore have won him wide acclaim. He is erhu soloist and Conductor for the Chinese Music Ensemble of New York.

Xia Wenjie graduated from the school of the Shanghai Traditional Orchestra. He was the banhu soloist at the Shanghai Opera House and also the principal player of erhu, zhonghu, and gaohu in the orchestra. Mr. Xia has been highly praised of his virtuosity and artistry. While in China, he was involved in operatic production and has composed several works. In addition, he has won several prizes in solo competitions. Mr. Xia is also affiliated with the Chinese Association of Musicians.