Kunqu Theatre Stockholm
Kunqu Theatre Berlin
The Peony Pavilion 牡 丹 亭
The Peony Pavilion, written by Tang Xianzu (1550-1616), was born in Linchuan, Jiangxi Province. This great dramatist, who lived during the reign of the Wanli Emperor during the Ming Dynasty, is often mentioned together with the English dramatist Shakespeare not only because they coincidently died in the same year, but also because their intelligence and achievements are of the same caliber, just like two unprecedented brilliant stars adding to each other’s splendor in the eastern and western skies of drama.
Abstract of the New Abridged Version of The Peony Pavilion In Lin’an city, Zhejiang Province, there lived a girl from a rich family named Du Du Liniang. One day, she goes to the garden to have some fun. She is mesmerized by the unsurpassed spring scenery and she is ravished by an intoxicating dream, in which a handsome scholar (Liu Mengmei) comes to her with a willow branch and they fall in love at first sight. Waking from the dream, she finds no way to part with his image in her heart and it seems impossible for her to lock up her heart that has just been freed from the bondage of feudal ethics. She is so enchanted by the feeling that she can find herself going nowhere else except in the dream where she stays with Liu Mengmei. As a result, she gets lost in the smothering atmosphere of her family where she can not follow her heart to choose her ideal spouse. She suffers so much in missing him that she is doomed to fall ill and then return to dust. As she lies dying, she instructs her maid Chunxiang to bury her beside the plum tree in the garden of her family and to bury her portrait under a stone from Taihu Lake. Liu Mengmei seems to be directed by this invisible power and he passes through Lin’an on his way to take an examination. He falls ill in Lin’an and stays in the Plum Blossom Temple that Du Liniang’s father has built beside her grave. Liu finds Du Liniang’s portrait there and he falls in love with her at first sight, even though what he is looking at is just a portrait. What’s more, he speaks to her portrait every day and Du Liniang is moved by him again. In his rendezvous with Du’s spirit, the fact that she has died is revealed by, and he follows what Du instructs him to unearth her corpse. Upon doing so, Du Liniang is revived by the power of their deep love. Eventually, as we suspect and hope, they are united and get married.