“Kunqu Masters on Chinese Theatrical Performance” Won Translation Award

“Kunqu Masters on Chinese Theatrical Performance” Won Translation Award


American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR) recognizes Wintergreen Kunqu Society (WKS) sponsored English-book Kunqu Masters on Chinese Theatrical Performance with an Honorable Mention award under the 2023 Translation Prizecategory.

The award ceremony is held on November 10, 2023 at the ASTR annual conference in Providence, Rhode Island.  Chang Tong-Ching, president, and Charles Wilson, vice president, of the WKS presented at the ceremony to receive the award on behalf of the editor Josh Stenberg of the book.  

ASTR is a professional theater and performance academic research organization based in the United States. The recognition of this book at its annual conference award ceremony will increase people’s awareness of the art form of kunqu andattract scholars, teachers, and students of Asian performance, theatre, and dance to learn about kunqu performance.

Kunqu theatre is one of the oldest and most refined performing art with a history of 500 years in China, commonly known as the mother of Chinese classical theater. But it is still little known to the Western theatre community. The first milestone of Kunqu made in the Western performing art history was Lincoln Center’s 1999 production of a large kunqu play The Peony Pavilion” in New York.  It took 19 hours in 3 days to perform 55 episodes and caused a sensation in New York. The second milestone was the recognition of kunqu by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2001 as “a masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

The book Kunqu Masters on Chinese Theatrical Performance consists of translated performer narrations that illuminate how kunqu has been taught andtransmitted over the past century. This is the first English book focused on kunqu theatrical performance published in the West.  ASTR’s recognition of this kunqu book would be the third milestonekunqu will no longer be absent from the world theatrical stage

The purpose of WKS sponsored this translation is to create a record and faithfully present the development of kunqu performances and unique oral teaching process to Western art communities in English-language. In the past, this information was only available to those who are familiar with Chinese language and Chinese traditional theatre. Offer such information in English can provide useful teaching materials about kunqu to academic researchers, performers and theater lovers who do not understand Chinese language. This book demonstrates that the existing kunqu plays and performances in China are the brainchild of successive generations of artists, rather than the masterpieces of a few artists.

Kunqu Masters on Chinese Theatrical Performance obtained permission by Hong Kong Master Studio and selected 12 representative lectures from the 110 lectures of the Chinese edition published in 2015, covering the master actors of the four major kunqu troupes, funded and supervised by the Wintergreen Kunqu Society in the United States, and edited by Josh Stenberg who currently teaches at the University of Sydney in Australia and organized a team of 4 translators.  The translation began in 2016 and the book was published in September 2022.  It took the team six years to complete. Being recognized by the ASTR for the team’s hardwork is our biggest prize.


Language: English

Hardcover: 468 pages  

Price: £120.00 / $195.00

ISBN-10: 178527807X

ISBN-13: 978-1785278075

Dimensions: 15.3 x 2.6 x 22.86 cm

Where to Buy

Ordering in North America, Latin America and Caribbean

Ingram Publishers Services (US)

1 Ingram Blvd. Mail stop

#512 Lavergne, TN 37086, United States

Tel: +1 866 400 5351



Ordering in the UK/Rest of the World

Ingram Publishers Services (UK)

1 Deltic Avenue, Rooksley

Milton Keynes, MK13 8LD

United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0) 1752 202300 | Fax: 01752 202330



Ordering in Australia

NewSouth Books

C/O Alliance Distribution Services (ADS)

9 Pioneer Avenue

Tuggerah 2259 NSW, Australia

Tel: +61 (02) 4390 1300 | Fax: +1800-66-44-77



Ordering e-Book


Amazon UK

Amazon US

Barnes & Noble


Publisher: Anthem Press (13 Sept. 2022)

75-76 Blackfriars Road

London SE1 8HA | United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7193 7371

info@anthempress.com | sales@anthempress.com | publicity@anthempress.com



244 Madison Ave. #116

New York | NY 10016 | United States

Tel: +1 646 736 7908



Ocean of Sin: Fleeing Down the Mountain 2019【孽海記】《下山》

Ocean of Sin: Fleeing Down the Mountain 2019【孽海記】《下山》

The Freer and Sackler Galleries Exhibition “The Last Empresses of China: 1644-1912” (紫鸾金凤:清代宫廷皇后艺术与生活大展 2018-19年美国巡展)


Shanghai Kunqu Troupe 上海崑劇團

Sackler Pavilion, Freer and Sackler Galleries
Independence Ave at 12th St. SW, Washington, Dear Charles: 20560
June 9, 2019

Watch Live Performance on Smithsonian’s Facebook

(At 33:00)

Hou Zhe and Ni Hong 侯哲、倪泓


Ocean of Sin: Fleeing Down the Mountain 孽海記:下山】  


The performance history of Ocean of Sin is contested and obscure, but the text is believed to be of Ming origin. “Ocean of sin” is a Buddhist metaphor for a life of sorrow and storytellers’ adaptation of Buddhist source material. Since monasteries are typically constructed on hills, “fleeing down the mountain” implies both literal flight and descent into the ordinary realm of human society.

Sent in childhood to a temple by his parents, Benwu (“Essence-is-Nought”) has grown into a lusty and virile Buddhist acolyte monk. He has lately been brooding over the tedium of his monastic routines. One day, left alone in the temple by the abbot, he flees down the mountain.

As luck would have it, during his flight he encounters a young woman with the Buddhist name Sekong (“Lust-is-Empty”), a novice in much the same state of mind. Sekong was dedicated by her parents to a Buddhist temple in her childhood, and in a previous scene (“Longing for Ordinary Life 思凡”), she has resolved to flee the temple.

The two escapees fall in love at first sight–his lascivious overtures answered by coquettish flirtation. Before long, they join forces to make their escape together and flee the strictures of devotional life.

The Butterfly Dream: Matching Making 2019 【蝴蝶梦:说亲】

The Butterfly Dream: Matching Making 2019  【蝴蝶梦:说亲】

The Freer and Sackler Galleries Exhibition “The Last Empresses of China: 1644-1912” (紫鸾金凤:清代宫廷皇后艺术与生活大展 2018-19年美国巡展)


Shanghai Kunqu Troupe 上海崑劇團

Sackler Pavilion, Freer and Sackler Galleries
Independence Ave at 12th St. SW, Washington, DC 20560
½ block from Smithsonian Metro Stop

Watch Live Performance on Smithsonian’s Facebook

Shanghai Kunqu 2019 Freer Sackler


I. The Butterfly Dream: Matchmaking 【蝴蝶梦:说亲】

“Matchmaking” is a short and humorous scene taken from a much longer and complex Ming drama chuanqi 传奇 called The Butterfly Dream, a traditional story which fictionalizes the life of Zhuangzi zhuang 莊子, an ancient Chinese philosopher (flourished, 350 and 300 B.C.E.).  As told by the traditional story, Zhuangzi traveled a lot, leaving his young wife at home. On the road, he once saw a widow fanning the wet earth covering a new grave, and learned that she wanted the earth to dry up and harden so that she could remarry—she had vowed to her deceased husband that she would not remarry until the earth in his grave dried up. This incident prompted Zhuangzi to contemplate on the institution of marriage and to want to test his own wife’s devotion to him. Thus, he returned home, and faked his own death, making his wife a widow.

“Matchmaking” begins Zhuangzi’s young wife, Madame Tian, lamenting her loneliness as a new widow. Her lament, however, quickly changes to her dreaming of marrying the young scholar who has come to visit Zhuangzi—the young scholar, needless to say, is the transformed Zhuangzi. Thus, the widow approaches the young scholar’s old servant (transformed from a large butterfly) and asks him to serve as a match maker.  Through the dialogues and interactions between the young widow and the old servant, the old servant agreed to be her match maker.  The scene delivers a comical drama that highlights human emotions, desires, while making fun of the Chinese institution of marriage.

The Jade Hairpin 2019 【玉簪记】

The Jade Hairpin 2019 【玉簪记】

Freer and Sackler Galleries Exhibition “The Last Empresses of China: 1644-1912” (紫鸾金凤:清代宫廷皇后艺术与生活大展 2018-19年美国巡展)

Shanghai Kunqu Troupe 上海崑劇團

Meyer Auditorium, Freer and Sackler Galleries
Independence Ave at 12th St. SW, Washington, DC 20560
½ block from Smithsonian Metro Stop

The Play

The Jade Hairpin 玉簪記 is a chuanqi 传奇 play by Gao Lian, written around 1570, some seventy years before the fall of the Ming dynasty. The play is divided into 33 scenes, but it would always have been common for scenes to be presented individually as selections rather than in sequence. The result is that certain scenes have very well-developed individual performance traditions. Chuanqi, sometimes translated as “marvel plays,” are the long scripts that in the Ming were the major drama genre.

Watch Live Performance on Smithsonian’s Facebook

Hou Zhe and Hu Weilu


The story is set in the Southern Song Dynasty (1127 – 1279).  As children, a match was arranged between befriended families who lost contact as they fled from war. The girl, orphaned, has sought asylum in a Taoist abbey and became a novice there, adopting a religious name. Unbeknownst to her, the abbess is the boy’s aunt.

As the play begins, the boy, Pan Bizhen, arrives at his Aunt’s abbey, to study for the civil service examination, which he has already failed once. There he meets the abbey novice, Miaochang. Without realising that they were intended for one another by their parents, they fall in love almost at first sight.

One evening, Pan expresses his love by playing romantic music on the zither. Miaochang is moved but nevertheless rejects his suit, since she is a novice.  Pan, lovesick, receives a visit from Miaochang and his aunt to comfort him in his illness.  A few days later, Pan visits Miaochang in return. He discovers, by chance, her poem describing her hidden love toward him. Miaochang can no longer hide her love anymore and declares herself.

Learning this, the abbess flies into a rage. She forces Pan to leave for the capital city immediately to take the examination again. Pan and Miaochang are heart-broken. She engages a boatwoman to follow him down the river in order to bid him a fond farewell.

Finally, Pan succeeds in the examination and became a Mandarin. Now his father considers him of age to marry and reveals to him his childhood engagement. Pan realizes that

Lin, Feng 林峰

Mr. Lin Feng is a National Class A Drummer/Percussionist of the Shanghai Kunqu Troupe.  Mr. Lin is a graduate of the Shanghai School for Traditional Theatre.  He is a disciple of distinguished drummers such as Wang, Yupu; Zhang, Xinhai; Li, Xiaoping; and Chu, Lei.  He has lead teams of percussionist and performed in many large full plays.  He also participated in the development of percussion music for large plays.  Mr. Lin won many municipal and national awards and is a member of the Shanghai Musician Association.

Qian, Yi 钱熠

Ms. Qian, Yi began her study of classical kunqu at the Shanghai Academy of Performing Arts at the age of ten and joined the Shanghai Kunju Company after graduation. At the age of twenty, Qian received the Outstanding New Orchid Buds Award, given by the Chinese Ministry of Culture to young performers. In 1998, Qian Yi was cast in the lead role of Lincoln Center Festival’s epic nineteen-hour production of The Peony Pavilion, which played at major international festivals in the United States, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Since coming to the U.S., Ms. Qian has continued to work in classical Chinese theater, while also starring in numerous adaptations of Chinese opera in the context of western theater. In 2008, Qian Yi made her debut in western opera, singing a leading role in the San Francisco Opera’s new production of Amy Tan’s The Bonesetter’s Daughter. She currently lives in New York.

Jingqiang Guo 郭景强

Guo Jingqiang is a graduate of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music where he studied erhu with Wei Zhongle, Lu Xiutong, and Chen Junying. He has been a member of the Shanghai Orchestra, the Shanghai Philharmonic, and the Shanghai Traditional Chinese Music Orchestra. His tours of Japan and Singapore have won him wide acclaim. Mr. Guo is an erhu soloist and conductor for the Chinese Music Ensemble of New York.

Shi-Rong Huang 黄士荣

After graduating from Shanghai Chinese Drama School, Mr. Huang Shi-Rong  served as the conductor of the famous Shanghai Beijing Opera Troupe for more than 30 years. Several of the Troupe’s popular productions that he conducted won national awards. He has been invited to perform in the USSR, Japan, Hong Kong and US.  Mr. Huang was a member of the orchestra for the Lincoln Center production of The Peony Pavilion.

Yang, Ling 杨玲

Michelle Yang is graduated from Tianjin Institute of Arts, Beijing Cinema Academy and Central Broadcast Institute, where she studied jingju (Beijing Opera), dance, movie and TV acting, and broadcasting. She was a member of Tianjin Institute of Beijing Opera for many years. A winner of many awards in jingju and dance contests, Ms. Yang appeared in several popular Chinese movies and TV series. She is currently a teacher of Kunqu Workshop and participates in Kunqu Society’s public programs.

Tao Chen 陈涛

Chen, Tao, an internationally acclaimed Chinese flutist, music educator, composer and conductor of Chinese orchestra, is the founder and director of the Melody of Dragon, Inc., the co-founder and director of Melody of Dragon & the Youth, the artistic director and conductor of the Chinese Music Ensemble of New York and conductor of New Jersey Buddha’s light Youth Chinese Orchestra.

Graduated from the Central Conservatory of Music in 1986, Mr. Chen has served as a professor in the Chinese music department. Since coming to the U.S. in 1993, he has performed and lectured throughout the country. In addition to traditional forms, Mr. Chen has won a reputation as a pioneer in the world of new music. His playing can be heard on several soundtracks of Hollywood movies including “Seven Years in Tibet,” “Corrupter” (with the New York Philharmonic), “The White Countess” and the PBS documentary “Under the Red Flag,” the “Voice of China,” “Becoming American” and an Italian movie “Singing behind Screen”. In the US, The New York Times called him a “poet in music” and his playing “a miracle of the oriental flute.” While on tour in Germany in 1989, the maestro Herbert von Karajan praises him as an artist whom “performed with his soul.”