Yuan zaju (元杂剧), also known as the qu-poetry of Yuan (元曲), was the preeminent theatrical form in China in the thirteen and fourteenth century under Mongol rule. It was featured by the four act structure, sung arias interspersed between dialogues as well as the miscellaneous arts of dance, mime and acrobatics. Yet Wang shi-fu, the author of the most controversial and acclaimed zaju throughout Chinese history The West Chamber (《西厢记》), was denied the honor of the top four zaju composers.This research project spotlights the most celebrated zaju playwrights Guan han-qing关汉卿, Bai pu白朴, Ma zhi-yuan马致远, Zheng guang-zu郑光祖, Wang shi-fu 王实甫 surrounding the genesis and inheritance of the nomination “The Four Masters of Yuan Drama.” The study has been divided into three session in pursuit of the historical antithesis. The first section is conducted around the five playwrights, giving emphasis to the characteristic and contribution of each through analysis and comparison of selected works. Then, it is followed by chronological research on the inception and dissemination of the entitlement. Finally, the project concludes with the discussion of political-social-cutural factors that may have contributed to Wang shi-fu’s “exclusion” and eventually debunking the myth of biased representation. The goal of the case study is to initiate more in-depth discourses on the recognition and reception of dramatists and the rectification of archival discrimination, suppression and persecution.
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Bian, Yao, "Re-assessing Wang shi-fu and "The Four Masters of Yuan Drama."" (2022). Research Days Posters 2022. 143.