Baitu-ji, one of the five masterpieces of Nanxi(southem drama), has continuously been revised and rewritten during its long history of reception. By the mid-Ming period, it had appeared in many different editions, either as complete editions or as selected scenes in dramatic anthologies. When it was adapted by local theaters later on, the play underwent further transformation. Its plot, dialogue and music were altered to meet the needs of different local theater groups. Recently it is also rewritten and performed in Yue-ju style.
This paper studies the various versions of Baitu-ji. It examines the printed editions of the play and also the performing texts of Xian밍u, Chuanju, Liyuanxi, Yueju and other local theaters. Through the comparison of the various versions, this paper reveals the different trend of adaptation in three different groups.
First group of the printed texts reveals the refined taste of the high class people during Ming and Qing period. Kunqiang becomes the main stream of the musical style and the Nanxi text becomes formal Chuanqi text.
Second group of local theatre texts has several characteristics of popular theatre. The story in the performance texts was revised to make the plot more logical and tight. In terms of stage performance, the most outstanding characteristics of the transformation is the increase of the comic performance by the jing and chou roles, saturated with local color and humor. As for music, the qupai system of the early nanxi was made less homogeneous by incorporating other musical forms, the banqiang system.
For the last group, I analyzed the recent version of Yuju and it shows us very apparent characteristics of refinement in language, plot and characters. It means an emergence of a new tide of refinement in recent Chinese theatre.
Through the comparison of the three group, we can find Chinese theatre continuously repeat the adaptation by refining or popularizing and gain the energy.