Wang Renjie

Wang Renjie
b. 1942, Quanzhou, Fujian
Xiqu (sung-drama/opera) playwright
A native of Quanzhou, Wang Renjie has been mainly writing for Liyuanxi (Pear Garden Theatre), the regional sung-drama (opera) of his home town and one of the oldest living theatres in China, preserving the tradition of the early Nanxi of the Song-Yuan period. His plays, which have been produced successfully on the Liyuanxi stage since the late 1980s, are The Lament of a Chaste Woman (Jiefu yin), Tutor Dong and Widow Li (Dong sheng yü Li shi), Love under Evening Maple Trees (Fenglin wan), Chen Zhongzi, and Woman Thief and Her Male Escort (Zaoli yü nüzei)—now collected in his A Collection of Plays of the Sanwei Study (Sanwei zhai jugao, Zhongguo xiju chubanshe, 2000). The first three plays are about widows in traditional or contemporary society, and Wang was subsequently nicknamed the ‘Three-Widow Playwright’. The Lament of a Chaste Woman and Tutor Dong and Widow Li earned him two ‘Cao Yu Awards’ for Dramatic Literature. As he became a well-known playwright, theatrical troupes of other Xiqu (sung-drama) forms commissioned him to write plays for their productions. For the Shanghai Kunqu Opera troupe, he has adapted the complete version of Tang Xianzu’s Peony Pavilion (Mudan ting) and Bai Juyi’s ballad poetry ‘Song of Pipa’ (Pipa xing) into Kunqu of the same titles. He has also written for Geju (sung plays) and for Huju (Shanghai/Shaoxing opera).
Two prevailing themes in Wang’s plays are, perhaps, man’s culturally imposed repression of himself and woman’s yearning for freedom, which take the form of tragedy in some plays and comedy in others. Wang’s lyrics have been praised as containing the flow and rhythm of classical poetry, and his dialogue is full of witticisms, which is partly characteristic of the genre of Liyuanxi. Wang is considered to be one of the most important Xiqu playwrights since the late 1970s. A four-day symposium was held in December 2000 for the study of his plays, attracting some one hundred scholars and critics from Beijing, Shanghai, Sichuan province, Taiwan and Hong Kong, as well as from various places within his native province of Fujian province. Thirty-six articles were presented, some of marked a new trend of recognizing the contribu- them later published in theatre journals. The event tions made by contemporary playwrights in the various regional Xiqu genres.
See also: theatre criticism (journals and periodicals); Xiqu playwrights

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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