Kunqu：“Butterfly’s Dream: A Marriage Proposal and Its Response” 【蝴蝶梦：說親、回話】
March 30 @ 3:30 pm - 4:30 pmFree
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
Meyer Auditorium, Freer and Sackler Galleries
Independence Ave at 12th St. SW, Washington, DC 20560
½ block from Smithsonian Metro Stop
“A Marriage Proposal and Its Response” is a short and humorous play taken from a much longer and complex Ming drama (chuanqi) called The Butterfly Dream, a traditional story which fictionalizes the life of Zhuangzi, 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.
“A Marriage Proposal and Its Response” begins with 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 and asks him to serve as a match maker. Returning with the young scholar’s response and order to test the widow’s desire to remarry, the old servant asks all kinds of questions and gives many excuses to stall the marriage—the young scholar cannot marry his teacher’s widow; a proper wedding can only be held on an auspicious day, and so forth. It is through the dialogues and interactions between the young widow and the old servant, “A Marriage Proposal and Its Response” delivers a comical drama that highlights human emotions, desires, while making fun of the Chinese institution of marriage.