The University of Wisconsin Press

Drama and Performance Studies


Traditional Chinese Plays,
Volume II
Longing for Worldly Pleasures and Fifteen Strings of Cash
Edited and translated by A. C. Scott

The world of traditional Chinese drama can be at once fascinating and bewildering to the uninitiated Western observer. Attuned to his own dramatic conventions, he is hard put to apprehend the delicate fusion of poetry, music, and subtle gesture which is the essence of Chinese theatre. Because of these difficulties, the task of translating traditional Chinese drama must go far beyond the conventional literary treatment and evoke the entire world of stagecraft and directing.

Longing for Worldly Pleasures (Ssu Fan) is a lyric monologue in which a young Buddhist laments the waning of her youth in the seclusion of the convent. The brief piece involves a complexity of mood which makes it an actor’s tour de force, undertaken only by the most highly skilled performers.

Fifteen Strings of Cash (Shih Wu Kuan), a much longer play, is a comic murder mystery satirizing bureaucratic ineptitude in the administration of justice. The comic lead role of Lou the Rat is a virtuoso part which illustrates the intricate mimetic art of the traditional comic actor and was the play’s main appeal to Chinese audiences.

A.C. Scott is director of the Asian Theatre Program at the University of Wisconsin and has a long and intimate knowledge of traditional Chinese theatre. He has written a number of books on the subject, including Traditional Chinese Plays, Volume 1: Su Lang Visits His Mother and The Butterfly Dream and Traditional Chinese Plays, Volume 3: Picking up the Jade Bracelet and A Girl's Setting Out for Trial.

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Chinese actors

December 1969

LC: 83-040269 PL
172 pp.    21 illus.
5 1/2 x 8 1/2

The 1969 cloth edition is out of print, but the paper edition is still available.

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ISBN 978-0-299-05374-1
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