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By Stephen H. West, Wilt L. Idema

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Extra info for Orphan of Zhao and Other Yuan Plays

Sample text

In several of these plays, stage directions34 and plot prompts become fewer and fewer as one moves from the beginning to the end of the play. This begs a question: does the reduction indicate that fewer prompts were necessary at the end or did printers begin to drop them to save space? The latter is a logical process in which text nonessential for a reader would be eliminated. This may explain why there are three texts with no prompts at all—it may be that those prompts originally were there, but the printer, realizing that the majority of people were purchasing them to be able to understand the arias, simply dropped the plot prompts from the very beginning.

21. Zheng Guangzu 1958, 21b, and Cai 1989, 2:793. 22. Ibid. 23. Zhou Deqing 2006. On the rhyme categories in Zhongyuan yinyun, see Stimson 1966. 24. Zhou Deqing 2006, 299. 25. Zheng Guangzu 1958, 20a. 26. That is, female entertainers. 27. A poet. 28.

Although they were certainly not the closet editions (antou ju 案頭劇) of the later Ming, they were indeed meant to be read by a public. 35 Before we reject this notion, we should acknowledge that many entertainers were capable of reading and even producing some of the lyrics (and, one supposes, the musical notations entered by 16 S INTRODUCTION hand) in a script. 36 The women of The Collection of the Green Bower were the most talented of the empire, but it also appeared that itinerant performers and low-class hucksters could at least read the script.

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