The Smithsonian Associates (TSA) in conjunction with presents
 
The New York Kunqu Troupe in a performance of 
Pan Chin-lien

Saturday, October 20, 2001 at 7:30 PM
Jefferson Auditorium, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 14th and Independence Ave., Wing 5, Washington, DC.

Performance Photo Gallery 

This program was sponsored ine part by the Kunqu Society

Cast

Liu Meng Mei Wang Taiqi
Pan Chin-lien:: Shi Jiehua

Wu Song:

Chen Zhiping
Ximen Qing Cai Qinglin
Wu Da Guo Yi
Wang Po: Wu Dezhang

Orchestra

Winds and Strings:

Kunqu Flute:

Zhou Ming
Er Hu: Zhang Qilan
Pipa: Wang Linsong
Ruan Huang Chenlin

Percussion:

Drum and Clappers: Huang Shirong
Brass Gongs: Song Bairu
Small Gongs: Huang Chenlin
Cymbals: Wang Linsong
 

Production Staff

Co-Producers: Tong-Ching Chang
Anna Wu
Stage Manager: Shou Wenqiang
Dresser: Yan Xiaoling
Make-up: Yang Guiying
Surtitle Preparation: Anna Wu
Yeh Wan-chih 

Synopsis

Part I: “Discovering the Portrait” from The Peony Pavilion (Mudan Ting)
The Peony Pavilion, written in 1598 by Tang Xianzu, tells the story of Du Liniang, a young woman from a well-to-do family who enters a forbidden garden and later dreams of a sexual encounter with a handsome young scholar named Liu Mengmei. When she returns the following day to pursue her dream, she finds no trace of her lover and falls into a deep depression and despair, which leads to her death a few months later. However, before she dies, she paints a portrait of herself and instructs her maid to place it a rosewood box and hide it under the Taihu rock in the garden.
 
The action in “Discovering the Portrait” takes place three years later. Her family has moved away and the garden, where Du Liniang’s body was buried, is in a state of disrepair. Lui Mengmei is staying at a nearby shrine while he recovers from an illness that he contracted on his way to the capital to the take the examination. As the scene begins, Lui Mengmei enters the garden to relieve his ennui and ponder his future. He marvels at the beauty of the garden and wonders how it came to be. He discovers a rosewood box, which contains a portrait of a beautiful woman. Assuming that the portrait is of the goddess Gaunyin, he decides to take it back to his room to perform formal obeisances ask for her blessing.

Part II: Pan Chin Lien
Pan Chin Lien is a vivacious young woman who has been forced to marry a poor street peddler, Wu Dalang, noted for his ugliness and extremely short stature. Shortly after their marriage, Dalang is unexpectedly reunited with his brother Wu Song, a dashing young man of exceptional strength and valor, who has become renown in the region after slaughtering a tiger with his bare hands. As the first scene begins, Wu Song has moved in with Wu Dalang and his wife at Dalang's invitation.

Scene 1 "Seduction and Departure"
Pan Chin-lien finds herself secretly in love with Wu Song. A man of astonishing beauty, he is the complete opposite of her husband. One day in the absence of Dalang, she tries to seduce Wu Song with wine and suggestions. Wu Song angrily rebuffs her and decided to leave. At the parting scene, Dalang, shadowed by a death premonition, tell his brother that he might not live to see him again. Wu Song consoles him and asks him to take good care of himself and his belongings. They bid each other a tearful farewell.

Scene 2 "First Encounter and Conquest"
After Wu Song's departure, Pan Chin-lien sinks into despair. She blames herself bitterly for his absence. Life seems unbearable to her; she is wasting her prime year in endless boredom. One morning, she is pouring some water from the window to the street, when a bamboo stick falls from the curtain and hits a pedestrian under the window. Little does she know that the pedestrian is not a casual passerby, but Ximen Qing, the infamous libertine in the region, a man of fortune and power who owns all the pawn shops in the city. Ximen Qing has heard the gossip about Pan Chin-lien's beauty and has come on purpose to steal a look at her. This encounter leads to his sedution plan. He bribes Mistress Wang, a venal old woman who lives next door to Pan Chin-lien, to be his go-between. Mistress Wang entices Pan Chin-line to meet secretly with Ximen Qing in her house. Under the pretence of 'dressmaking,' Pan Chin-lien carries on her illicit affair with Ximen Qing in Mistress Wang's bedroom. 

  Program Notes  

The two scenes from Pan Chin Lien that are presented tonight constitute Acts 3 and 4 of the seven-act production stage by the New York Kunqu Troupe in 1999. In the last three acts, Ximen Qing badly beats Wu Dalang after he discovers the affair. To avoid reprisals when Wu Song returns, Pan Chin-lien, under pressure from Mistress Wang and Ximen Ching, puts poison in Dalang's medicine and kills him. When Wu Song returns, he eventually discovers what happens and kills both Pan Chin-lien and Ximen Qing.

The story is adapted from several Chinese classical works, notable the classic novel, The Water Margin, of the 16th century Ming Dynasty.  During the last century, various regional theaters in China have presented the play in different formats with minor alterations in the details of the story. The images of the two protagonists, Wu Song and Pan Chin-lien, have undergone a transformation indicative of the moral concepts and sensibilities of the time. In some of the productions at the turn of the century Wu Song is portrayed as a hero with the laudable virtues of loyalty, integrity, and valor. However, Pan Chin-lien has received much more sympathetic treatment from modern playwrights such as Ou-0yan Yu-Chien who raises Pan Chin-lien to the stature of a tragic heroine. She is not merely a victim and adulteress, but asserts herself as a full-blooded person with passions and courage. Some productions staged in the mid-Sixties ended the play with Pan Chin-lien's suicide.

Meet the Company

Shi Jiehua the vivacious "young female" role in the Kunqu theater. Her exemplary acting, dancing, and singing, heightened by her natural beauty of voice and appearance on stage makes M. Shi the diva of the company. She is a graduate of the Shanghai Academy of Performing Arts and a former member of the Shanghai Kunju Troupe. Ms. Shi is director of the Kunqu Society and the New York Kunqu Troupe.

Chen Zhiping specializes in the "painted face" character type. Mr. Chen is a master of portraying warriors and other roles that incorporate characteristics of bravery, chivalry, and a fiery temperament. One of the first distinguished graduates of the prominent Shanghai Academy of Performing Arts, Mr. Chen was a major Kunqu start with the Shanghai Kunju Troupe for many years before coming to the United States. With his high mastery of singing, action, and acrobatic motions, he has made a profound impression on audiences inside and outside of China.

.

Cai Qinglin is a leading performer of the "clown" role. He is a graduate of the Shanghai Academy of Performing Arts and a former member of the Shanghai Kunqu Troupe. From the moment he takes the stage, Mr. Cai mesmerizes his audience with his deft wit and rhythmic movement.  He has been invited to appear in many performing art festivals in Spain and the United States. Mr. Cai is a Resident Artist of The Kunqu Society in New York.  

Wang Taiqi A graduate of the Shanghai Academy of Performing Arts and one of the leading performers of the young male roles for the Shanghai Kunqu Troupe, Mr . Wang is well recognized for his versatility in playing other role types of the Kunqu performing art. He has appeared in many major performances in New York, Washington, D.C., and on the West Coast. Currently, he is a Resident Artist of the Kunqu Society.

Wu Dezhang is a leading performer of the "young male” role. A graduate of the Shanghai Academy of Performing Arts and a former member of the Shanghai Kunqu Troupe, he has toured extensively with troupe to many countries. He appeared in a principal role in the Wintergreen Kunqu Society production of The Peony Pavilion, presented by The Smithsonian Associates in May, 1999.  Mr. Wu is a Resident Artist of the Kunqu Society and the Director of Kunqu Workshops. 

Guo Yi is one of the most talented, young performers of the “clown” role type. A graduate of the Shanghai Academy of Performing Arts, Mr. Guo's first appearance in the U.S. was in Kunqu Society's production of Pan Chienlien at the Taipei Theater, New York, in October 1999.

Meet the Musicians

 

Zhou Ming is a master of the dizi, the Chinese bamboo flute. A graduate of the Shanghai Chinese Opera Academy, he received a BA degree in Dizi from Shanghai Conservatory of Music in 1989 and is currently completing his MA degree in Career Management in Art and Culture in the Shanghai Jiaotong University.  Mr. Zhou has performed as the lead musician for over twenty-five major Kunqu plays, including the Lincoln Center production of The Peony Pavilion in July, 1999. He holds the title First-rate Musician from the official ranking system in China. 

Huang Chenlin 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.

 

Zhang Qilan began to play the erhu at the age of eight and the next year was joined the Shanghai Young People's Orchestra. In 1979, at the age of 13, she was accepted by the Shanghai Opera School to continue her studies of erhu, flute, and percussion. Following her graduation in 1985, she was admitted into the Shanghai Yueju Company and has accompanied many of the leading actresses in that theater. She is currently a member of the Ensemble of the Peony Pavilion, which performed The Peony Pavilion at the 1999 Lincoln Center Festival.

Pre-performance Lecture

Introduction to Chinese Kunqu Theater by Tong-Ching Chang
The program will be introduced by Tong-Ching Chang, President of
who will provide some background for the performance and discuss some of the unique features of Kunqu theater.