Playwright Li Yu
Throughout Chinese history, there are a number of famous poets, playwrights and novelists. Li Yu has the distinction of being all three.
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Born in 1610, Li Yu lived through turbulent period that saw Qing replacing the Ming Dynasty. Li Yu died in 1680.
Li Yu wrote several exams in the hope that he could earn a job with the court system. After failing, he gave up the dream and opened a bookstore. He devoted his life to writing.
Li Yu's plays and Drama theory are his biggest accomplishments. Ten of his works remain, including "Bi Mu Yu", "Feng Qiu Huang", "Yu Sao Tou" and "Lian Xiang Ban". Most of his works were love stories, which expressed young people's aspiration towards love. The plots are twisted and humorous, which adapted well to stage performances. But his works were not solely for entertainment; they reflect serious social reality. For example, he addressed topics such as the social ranking scale and arranged marriages. Li Yu's plays were quite popular during that era and were introduced to Japan and other Asian countries.
Li Yu also organized an opera troupe to perform his plays. He acted as director, and sometimes, an actor. In ancient times, actors were inferior to other professionals and were looked down upon. But Li Yu loved his career and took his opera troupe to perform across the country for over two decades.¡¡¡¡
Years of practice enhanced his understanding of drama. Li Yu carefully studied every procedure from writing plays, to casting, to rehearsals. He wrote of his studies in the book titled, "Xian Qing Ou Ji". In it, complete Drama theory took shape. Drama theory became matured and greatly influenced the development of Drama and literature.
Apart from the accomplishments in plays and Drama theory, Li Yu was a famous novelist in Chinese history. His long novels include "Jue Hou Chan." His short stories include "Wu Sheng Xi" and "Shi Er Lou." Li Yu always held opinions which were against traditional values. For instance, in ancient times, a woman had to strictly follow traditional virtues and was not allowed to leave the home.
Li Yu's talents were not restricted to literature. In his book "Xian Qing Ou Ji", he divulges useful information pertaining to cooking, architecture, collections and planting.