Chinese Classic Drama
Chinese classic drama was popular in the 17th century.
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The Drama during the Yuan (Yan or Mongol) dynasty (1279-1368) may have been the result of the refusal of many scholars to serve the Mongol regime; instead they turned their talents to new fields, such as fiction and drama. Vernacular literature continued to develop through the modern period, until it finally coalesced with a new and more inclusive literary movement in the early years of the 20th century.
Since the 13th century Chinese drama has followed a pattern of local development, with the most popular of local dramas acquiring national importance. The Yuan drama, a creation of northern China, relies on northern dialect in dialogue and song. The lute is the chief instrument used, and the songs, which constitute the poetic portion of the play and are generally considered more important than the dialogues, are written in the qu (ch'), a new poetic form more flexible and expressive than the previously mentioned shi of the Han period and the ci of the Tang period. A Yuan play has four parts, corresponding to the four acts of a Western play; often an additional short act that serves as a prelude and sometimes as an interlude is added.
The basic template for most Chinese plays involves a handsome, bright scholar who falls in love with a beautiful maiden. Trouble usually comes in in the form of parental disapproval, thus creating the conflict between the young lovers' Confucian obedience to their parents and their own irrepressible love for each other. Peony Pavilion adheres to this pattern but throws in a very unusual twist. The young maiden in the story, Bridal Du, falls in love with a scholar whom she's only met once in a dream and dies longing for him. But this is just the beginning. The scholar, Liu Mengmei, happens to be a real person and through sheer accident ends up staying in her town. Eventually, Liu meets Bridal's ghost, disinters her body, and she comes back to live. Other complications then arise. The play also includes a good dose of humor.