David Rolston (陸大偉)
Fifteen Strings of Cash:
"The Fortune Teller"
The Roar of the Lioness: "Kneeling by the
David Rolston (陸大偉)
The Lute: "Sweeping
under the Pine"
This program is a
co-production of the Freer and Sackler Galleries and the Wintergreen
Kunqu Society. They are made possible, in part, with support from the
Wintergreen Kunqu Society and the New York Chinese Opera Society.
Thanks to Ms. Chen Santzu
（陳三資）of Pong Yi Qu Ji (蓬瀛曲集), Taiwan, and The Kunqu Society, New York,
for assistance in this production.
Fifteen Strings of Cash: "The
Ji Zhenghua 計鎮華
Lou the Rat:
The Roar of the Lioness:
"Kneeling by the Pond"
Wen Yuhang 溫宇航
The Lute: "Sweeping under the
Kunqu Flute (Dizi):
Ming 周 鳴
||Yang Guiyin 楊桂英
||David Ralston 陸大偉
||Tong-Ching Chang 張冬青
Fifteen Strings of Cash:
The Fortune Teller
This scene is taken from a popular adaptation from a 17th century play
concerning judicial injustice. The story begins with a butcher returning home
one night very drunk and carrying fifteen strings of cash loaned to him by a
relative. He playfully teases his stepdaughter that he has sold her for the
cash, and then falls asleep. The terrified stepdaughter decides to seek shelter
at her aunt’s but leaves the front door ajar when she leaves. Lou the Rat—rogue,
gambler, and petty thief—enters through the open door. In an attempt to steal
the cash, he inadvertently wakes the butcher and then kills him. When the
neighbors find the corpse, Lou the Rat cunningly directs suspicion toward the
missing stepdaughter, and they all set off to apprehend her.
On her way to her aunt, the stepdaughter meets a young merchant’s apprentice.
The two have no sooner agreed to travel together than the neighbors catch up
with them. The neighbors suspect that the two are lovers and when they discover
that the apprentice is carrying precisely fifteen strings of cash, they conclude
that the two of them are the murderers. The couple is brought before the
district magistrate, who is persuaded by the circumstantial evidence of the
fifteen strings of cash and extorted confessions that they are guilty, and he
condemns them to death. A minor official, Kuang Zhong, is deputized to oversee
the executions, but soon discovers that the case has some holes and obtains
permission to investigate. At the scene of the murder, he finds some of the
original fifteen strings of cash, proving the young couple’s innocence, and also
a pair of weighted dice, which casts suspicion on the known gambler, Lou the
In the scene performed today, Kuang Zhong has learned that Lou the Rat is hiding
in a temple and appears there disguised as a fortuneteller. To have his fortune
told, Lou must choose a Chinese character for Kuang to analyze. Lou chooses the
character for “rat”, which Kuang then “analyzes” to get Lou to implicate himself
in the murder. In the final scene of the play the Lou is punished and the
wronged couple set free.
Fifteen Strings of Cash is an adaptation from the 1950s of a 17th century play
by Zhu Suchen, based on two familiar short stories about court cases. Zhu’s play
had total of thirty-six scenes. By the late 19th century, however, only a
handful of scenes were still being performed, and almost all of them dealt with
only one of the two court cases. The 1950’s adaptation, which has only eight
scenes, was developed by the Zhejiang Provincial Kunqu Company. Its 1958 Beijing
premiere was very well received, and no less an authority than Prime Minister
Zhou Enlai credited it with the revival of Kunqu as a performing art.
The Roar of the Lioness: Kneeling by the Pond
The play tells of the escapades of the young scholar Chen Jichang, who
frequently seeks outside amorous adventures despite his affection for his
extremely jealous wife, Lui Shi. The scene to be performed takes place after
Chen has taken advantage of an invitation by his friend, Su Dongpo, to join him
on a spring excursion accompanied by a courtesan. Unfortunately for Chen, his
wife has learned about the concubine and confronts him with her knowledge. As
punishment for violating his promise not visit a courtesan, she makes him kneel
by a pond in their residence. When Su comes to visit Chen and finds his friend
being punished, he tries to reason with his wife to be more understanding, but
without much success.
Written during the late Ming dynasty (16th Century), The Roar of the Lioness
shines as one of the most popular and enduring Kunqu comic plays. The title
has become a familiar metaphor in Chinese culture that refers to a jealous and
tempestuous woman and her henpecked husband.
The Lute: Sweeping under the Pines
This play tells the story of Cai Bojie, a young scholar who leaves his
wife and parents at home while he travels to the capital to take the imperial
exam. After passing the exam with high honors, Cai is appointed to a high
position in capital and coerced into staying and marrying the daughter of the
prime minister. After several years, Cai sends his trusted servant Li Wang, with
money and a letter to ask his parents and wife to join him in the capital.
However, unknown to Cai, his parents have since died in a famine and his first
wife, Zhao Wuniang has become a beggar.
As the scene opens, a caring neighbor Zhang Guangcai, is sweeping the
grave of Cai’s parents. Li approaches and asks the old man for direction to
Cai’s home. When Zhang tells him what has happened, Li Wang is presented with a
problem. Unless he can contact the parents, he will not be able to ask them to
return to the capital and thus complete his assignment. Zhang suggests that Li
kneel at their grave, and playing the role of his master, beseech his parents to
join him in the capital. When Zhang takes this opportunity to upbraid Cai for
abandoning his family, Li explains that Cai had no choice in the matter. Hearing
this, Zhang realizes that since he had urged Cai to go away in the first place,
he is partly responsible for what has happened.
Meet the Artists
is a famous Kunqu artist and a National Class One Performer specializing
in laosheng (old male) roles. He was trained under Zheng
Chuanjian and Ni Chuanyue, two artists of the reknowned “Chuan”
generation of Kunqu performers. He was the winner of the Plum Blossom
Award for Chinese Theatre, the Performing Award, the Showcase Award and
the Commemorative Award at the Shanghai Theatre Festival and the Star
Award at the Magnolia Award for Chinese Theatre in Shanghai. His
repertoire includes excerpts from the traditional repertory such as
Searching the Mountains and Stopping the Cart, Recovering from
Blindness, and Sweeping under the Pine, as well as new
productions such as The Illusory Dream, Cai Wenji, and
Emperor Taizong of the Tang.
Liang Guyin is a famous Kunqu artist
and a National Class One Performer. She was trained in the style of
Zhang Chuanfang and Shen Chuanzhi, members of the “Chuan” generation of
Kunqu performers. With her sweet rich voice, Ms. Liang has a repertoire
that includes a broad spectrum of roles and vivid personae in the dan
(female) category -- such as the zhengdan (principal female),
huadan (flirtatious female) and poladan (the shrew). She is
known for her sensitive interpretations of her roles and the appealing
charm of the shrew characters that she plays. She was a recipient of the
Plum Blossom Award for Chinese Theatre, the Magnolia Award for Chinese
Theatre in Shanghai, the Outstanding Achievements Award at the Shanghai
Cultural and Arts Festival, and a Performance Award at the Shanghai
Theatre Festival. She is acclaimed for her interpretations in The
Lute, Yearning for the Secular World, and The Wedding Day.
Liu Yilong is a famous Kunqu artist and
a National Class One Performer. He specializes in chou (clown)
role types, and studied with three “Chuan” generation performers: Hua
Chuanhao, Wang Chuansong and Zhou Chuancang. He is a versatile actor,
playing both civil and military roles, who injects an infectious sense
of humor and fun into his performances. He was the winner of the
Supporting Performer Award at the Magnolia Art Award for Chinese Theatre
in Shanghai, an Honorable Performance Award at the China Kunqu Opera
Arts Festival and the Outstanding Performance Award and the Laurel Award
at the Shanghai Theatre Festival. He is known for his excellent vocal
skills and delivery, and his insightful acting has created many
memorable characters, some of the most well-known including Lou the Rat
in Fifteen Strings of Cash, Ximen Qing in Pan Jinlian and
the old servant in The Butterfly Dream.
Wen Yuhang studied at the Beijing
Traditional Opera School for six years with some of the most famous
actors and teachers at the school, specializing in the xiaosheng
(young scholar) role type. He was a principal actor with the Northern
Kunju Company. He has performed throughout China, Taiwan and other
countries and has received awards in the “best performer” category in
Chinese Drama competitions. In 1999, he was the leading actor,
portraying Liu Mengmei, in the Lincoln Center production of The Peony
Pavilion, He currently lives in New York.
Shan Jing studied at the Jingchen Chinese
Opera School, specializing in the Chou (clown) role type. He also
studied at the China Traditional Opera Academy in Beijing, graduating
with Honors in 1997, and staying on to teach at the Academy. He has
participated extensively in various other art forms, including
performances with Japanese artists, particularly a tribute performance
for the prince of Japan in 1997. He performed the role tutor Chen in the
Lincoln Center production of The Peony Pavilion.
David Rolston is Associate Professor
of Chinese Language and Literature in the Department of Asian Languages
and Cultures at the University of Michigan. His particular interests
include traditional Chinese drama and fiction. He has numerous
publications in English and Chinese. He is presently working on a book
on the role system of Peking opera that examines the range and
distribution of character types and analyzes them in terms of both the
traditional role-type system and compares them to ways of categorizing
people in both the social sciences and other theatrical traditions.
Zhou Ming is a master of the Chinese
bamboo flute known as the dizi. A graduate of the Shanghai
Academy of Traditional Chinese Theater, he received a BA degree in
dizi performance from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music in 1989.
Mr. Zhou has performed as the lead musician in over twenty-five major
Kunqu plays for the Shanghai Kunqu Troupe and has been a guest conductor
of ensembles in Japan and Taiwan. He held the title of Class One
Musician in the official ranking system in China. He was the music
director and lead musician for the Lincoln Center production of The
Peony Pavilion, which toured festivals in Paris (home of the
co-sponsor of the production, Festival L’Automne), Milan, Aarhus, Perth,
Berlin, Vienna, and Singapore.
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 thirty years. Several of the productions he conducted as master
drummer won national awards in China. He has performed in the U.S.S.R.,
Japan, and Hong Kong. Mr. Huang was a member of the orchestra for the
Lincoln Center production of The Peony Pavilion.
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.
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.