The Orphan of Zhao;《赵氏孤儿》

The Orphan of Zhao – Ten Productions/ Ten Projections of China

Li Ruru

This exhibition considers ten productions of The Orphan of Zhao which were created by practitioners from three countries – China, Korea and Britain – and span a range of theatrical genres: Chinese regional operas; Chinese spoken drama, Chinese opera in the Western style; as well as the recent English-language dramatization by the Royal Shakespeare Company. These diverse productions not only retell an ancient story of an orphan in China, but also enlighten us about the intriguing fluidity and continuity of human culture.

Historical records present contradictory accounts of the Zhao orphan. The earliest surviving source, Zuo’s Commentary (compiled around 450 BC), indicates the orphan was born circa 583 BC during the Spring-Autumn Period (722-481 BC) – a time when the power of the imperial institution was being eroded by the growth of numerous aristocratic-family-states. In this account the orphan’s mother, the Jin ruler’s sister, was revealed to have had an illicit relationship with her uncle-in-law and she reacted by accusing the rest of the Zhao clan of plotting a rebellion. The entire Zhao clan was executed apart from the mother and the orphan, who were taken into the care of her brother, the ruler. Subsequently, the dying ruler decided to rehabilitate the Zhao orphan.

A broadly similar account is found some four centuries later in the chapter ‘The Jin Clan’ in Sima Qian’s Records of the Grand Historian. Elsewhere in the same work, by contrast, the chapter ‘The Zhao Clan’ presents the history rather differently. While the ending accords with Zuo’s Commentary there is no longer any mention of the infidelity of the orphan’s mother. Instead, the cold-blooded massacre of the Zhao clan is schemed by courtier Tu’an Gu. The two heroes who protect the orphan, Cheng Ying and Gongsun Chujiu, appear for the first time, and scholars speculate that the historian Sima Qian introduced these two heroes from contemporary folk tales as exemplars of loyalty, the most important of all duties in the Confucian code. Centuries of scholarly debate, however, have failed to resolve the mystery of why Sima should have written such conflicting narratives in two chapters of his Records.

The extant full-length play about the orphan of Zhao is Ji Junxiang’s great tragedy Wrongs Avenged by the Orphan of Zhao, written in the Yuan dynasty when China was ruled by the Mongols (1206-1368), and ‘The Zhao Clan’ in Records of the Grand Historian was evidently the chief source for this play. Since then, generations of writers and artists within and beyond China (including Voltaire, Goethe, Metastasio, Arthur Murphy, James Fenton and Gregory Doran) have quarried characters and stories from the Yuan play to create their own work.

Most productions in this exhibition are based on Ji’s tragedy, yet the artists’ words reveal how individual work formulates its own interpretation of that piece of history and the character of the orphan of Zhao. More importantly, they also illustrate theatre practitioners’ understanding of China and what ‘Chineseness’ means in the contemporary world.

This exhibition exemplifies the essential theme of our international research network project Performing China on the Global Stage, which will evolve to its second phase ‘Staging China’ after this symposium. We invite theatre researchers and practitioners to work together, challenging the existing models and methodologies of how to examine intra/inter/cross-cultural theatres. We believe that theatre is an important part of culture, as a form of ‘soft power’ (Nye 2004). In addition to presenting China’s image to different regions in the country and the outside world, it is capable of shaping people’s perception of Chinese culture.

Let’s explore this fascinating theatre world together.

《赵氏孤儿》——十部演出/十家争鸣

李如茹

这里展出的十部《赵氏孤儿》包括话剧、豫剧、京剧、越剧、湖北花鼓戏、西洋歌剧以及用英语和韩语演出的各种戏剧样式。这些作品不仅讲述了一个中国古代孤儿的故事,而且也显示了人类文化流动与传承的轨迹。

历史文献中赵氏孤儿的故事很不一样。今天可以看到的最早的关于赵家的故事是《左传》,认为赵武(即今天大家熟知的“孤儿”)生于公元前583年春秋时代,该书的记载是:

晋赵婴通于赵庄姬。(成公四年)

……

晋赵庄姬为赵婴之亡故,谮之于晋侯,曰:“原、屏将为乱。”栾、郤为征。六月,晋讨赵同、赵括。武従姬氏畜于公宫。以其田与祁奚。韩厥言于晋侯曰:“成季之勋,宣孟之忠而无后,为善者其惧矣。三代之令王,皆数百年保天之禄。夫岂无辟王,赖前哲以免。《周书》曰:‘不敢侮鳏寡。’所以明德也。”乃立武,而反其田焉。(成公八年)

――《左传•成公》

四百多年以后,司马迁的《史记》“赵世家”一节中出现了与《左传》很不不相同的叙述,具备了后来“搜孤救孤”的轮廓。程婴、公孙杵臼和屠岸贾这三位脍炙人口的戏剧性人物出现了,很多学者认为,两位救孤的英雄实际上来自当年的民间传说,正如鲁迅所言,《史记》乃“史家之绝唱,无韵之《离骚》”,充满了史学诗人的激情与想象,也是对于中国儒家思想之一“重义”的歌颂。应该指出,就是《史记》本身关于赵家的故事在“赵世家”和“晋世家”中也互有出入。

至今保存完善的有关“孤儿”最早的剧本是元代纪君祥的《冤报冤赵氏孤儿》。该剧的主要来源无疑是《史记•赵世家》。自此,元杂剧《赵氏孤儿》成为后世中、外戏剧家的灵感,海外重写该剧的有伏尔泰、歌德、梅塔斯塔齐奥(意大利)、阿瑟•墨菲(英国)以及2012年皇家莎士比亚剧团的改编者詹姆斯•芬顿与导演格雷格里•多兰。

展览中的大多数作品建立在元杂剧的基础之上,但是从诸位艺术家、制作人对于自己作品的诠释中可以看到,每一部演出都是创造者对于那一段历史以及“赵氏孤儿”这个人物的独特诠释。更加重要的是这些作品也都让我们看到戏剧实践者对于“中国”与“中国精神”的理解。

可以说,这一包括不同《赵氏孤儿》演出的展览为我们创造了一个极妙的微观世界,使我们清楚地看到国际戏剧研究互联网“寰球舞台演出中国”的主题(这次研讨会之后,我们的互联网将迈入新的阶段,其名称也会改为“舞台中国”)。我们真诚地希望戏剧研究者与实践者携起手来,共同挑战现行的“文化内”、“文化间”以及“跨文化”的戏剧模式和方法论。我们坚信戏剧是文化的一个重要组成部分,也是“软实力”之一。戏剧在中国国内各个区域、也在海外以不同样式展现了中国的形象,并以其独具的魅力影响着人们对于中国文化的理解。

让我们一起来勘探这神奇的戏剧世界。

Productions

Title Genre Production Company
The Orphan of Zhao (Beijing Jingju Theatre);赵氏孤儿(北京京剧院) Jingju;京剧 Beijing Jingju Theatre;北京京剧院
The Orphan of Zhao (Beijing People's Art Theatre);赵氏孤儿(北京人民艺术剧院) Huaju, modern spoken drama;话剧 Beijing People’s Art Theatre;北京人民艺术剧院
The Orphan of Zhao (Heibai Drama Society, Zhejiang University);赵氏孤儿(浙江大学黑白剧社) Huaju, modern spoken drama;话剧 Heibai Drama Society, Zhejiang University;浙江大学黑白剧社
The Orphan of Zhao (Henan Yuju Theatre, Company No. 2);赵氏孤儿(河南省豫剧院二团) Yuju;豫剧 Henan Yuju Theatre, Company No. 2;河南省豫剧二团
The Orphan of Zhao (Hubei Experimental Huaguxi Theatre);赵氏孤儿(湖北省实验花鼓戏剧院) Huaguxi;花鼓戏 Hubei Provincial Experimental Huaguxi Theatre, Hubei Provincial Huaguxi Research Institute;湖北省实验花鼓戏剧院,湖北省花鼓戏艺术研究院
The Orphan of Zhao (Korean production);赵氏孤儿(韩国版) Drama;戏剧 Michoo Theatre Company in Seoul;韩国美丑剧团
The Orphan of Zhao (National Centre for the Performing Arts);赵氏孤儿(中国国家大剧院) Geju (opera);歌剧 National Centre for the Performing Arts, China;中国国家大剧院
The Orphan of Zhao (National Theatre Company of China);赵氏孤儿(中国国家话剧院) Huaju, modern spoken drama;话剧 National Theatre Company of China;中国国家话剧院
The Orphan of Zhao (Nigerian production);赵氏孤儿(尼日利亚版) Drama;戏剧 Drama section at Ahmadu Bello University in Nigeria;贝洛大学戏剧部
The Orphan of Zhao (Shanghai Yueju Theatre);赵氏孤儿(上海越剧院) Yueju (Shaoxingxi) ;越剧 Shanghai Yueju Theatre;上海越剧院
The Orphan of Zhao (The Royal Shakespeare Company);赵氏孤儿(皇家莎士比亚剧团) Drama;戏剧 Royal Shakespeare Company;皇家莎士比亚剧团

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