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Features of Shadow Puppets Flash

Getting to Know Old Scripts

Old Script
Many of Taiwan’s shadow puppet scripts have their materials derived from historical stories and legends, such as Journey to the West, The Story of Chikung, etc. Shadow puppet scripts are all hand-copied, and generations of theater impresarios often were able copiers and writers of script. Taiwan’s shadow puppet theater scripts are categorized based on the early Ming Dynasty Nan-hsi (Southern Opera) system as literary and martial.
The shadow puppet stories of the literary types excel for their intricate plots and beautiful singing. Among the representative works of literary shadow puppet stories are “Ts’ai Pai-chieh,” Shih-ma tu, Su Yun, and Pai Ying-ko, which are collectively called the “Four Classical Scripts.”
Martial-themed shadow puppet stories stand out for their dynamic presentations rich in diversity and actions. Among the more renowned martial scripts are Chiu-ch’u Huang-ho chen, The Journey to the West, and The Story of Chikung .
“Ensemble new scripts” adapted for shadow puppet performances were either written by designated writers or by the leaders of theater ensembles. Some of them reflect events of the times, such as the Air Raid of Tokyo, and the War in North Korea: Anti-Communism and Resistance Against the Soviets, both written by Donghua Shadow Puppet Troupe.“Campus scripts” are more recent works that result from promotion of shadow puppet theater in elementary and high school campuses. They include such titles as “The Motorcycle Racing Accident and Wisdom Fruit, all of which reflect modern-day lifestyles.

Getting to Know Handcopied Scripts
Taiwan’s shadow puppet scripts have traditionally been written using brush calligraphy. As they are copied from generation to generation, they are called hand-copied scripts. Relatively younger puppeteers such as Zhang Fu-guo have adopted the use of the ink pen for copying. A study of existing hand copied scripts in Southern Taiwan allows us to classify hand copied scripts into four types:
Hand copied by private individuals
“Private individuals” refers to non-troupe members. This type is further sub classified into two: Scripts copied by owners of bookstores and which are sold to shadow puppet troupes. The most well known of these is “Hsu Jen Book Store.” (Figure). Another subtype is copying work consigned by the shadow puppet troupes to others. The best example of this is the script entitled Ti-ching Pacifies the West, which was commissioned to Lai Pen-na by Painting’s Huang Ming-sheng. Overall, the latter mode occurs less commonly. These reflect the great demand for shadow puppet scripts in the early stages of the period of Japanese colonial rule when there still were a large number of shadow puppet troupes and the market was very competitive.
Hand copied by troupe members
This mode is more common in shadow puppet troupes. Many traditional scripts are in bad shape after long years of use, and must therefore be copied verbatim. For the Donghua Troupe, with its long history, Zhang Chiao and Zhang De-cheng at different stages of its development, made copies of Ts'ui Wen-jui. Other puppeteers such as Xu Fu-neng, Zhang Tian-pao and Zhang Wan also copied scripts that passed on to later generations. Others, like Lin Ch’i-liang, Zhang Fu-ting and Zhang Shuei used scripts that belonged to their fathers, and therefore rarely involved themselves in the copying of scripts. We must also take note that the same piece, after copying by different puppeteers, sometimes leads to some variations. Important reasons include the copier’s educational training and calligraphic techniques.
Use of storytellers’ tales to write new scripts
This was a way to expand the shadow puppet repertoire of stories during the highly competitive period of the indoor performances. A case in point was Zhang Chiao, who once asked Wu Tian-pao of Ch’iaot’ou Township in Kaohsiung County, and Sun K’ao of Kaohsiung City, to provide the stories, which Zhang himself wrote into script form. Zhang Chiao and Pingtung’s Cheng Ch’uan-ming, puppeteer of Ch’uan Le Ke Troupe, were good friends, and therefore, there was sharing and exchange among them.
Innovative Scripts
Although these scripts are similar to those in (2) above, they being written by the troupe members themselves, these works are different in that they were meant for use in Master Chikung competitions, usually government sponsored. In Taiwan’s shadow puppet troupes, only Zhang Chiao and Zhang De-cheng were known to have tried it this way. The former wrote Master Chikung Comes to Taiwan while the latter wrote Tokyo Air Raid, Attack North Korea, and Anti-Communist Annals, which included details of real events. They were unprecedentedly well received.
In general, the first two types were more common, and the hand-copied scripts were more traditional. Type 4 is more creative, but these were few and far between. They are rare and unique works on innovation in the history of the art in Taiwan. Based on the above classification, the scripts of Ts’ai Lung-hsi fall under the most traditional Type 2.
The following conditions generally occur in hand copied scripts, judging based on the copies made by puppeteers like Ts’ai Lung-hsi of Mituo Township’s Chin Lien Hsing Shadow Puppet Troupe and others:
First: Characters immediately portray the story upon getting on stage.
Second: Written words often show mistakes or the simplified form.
Third:Words are in the Taiwanese dialect.
Fourth: When there is singing, the name of the song is specified.
Fifth: Circles are used for note-taking.
Sixth: Handcopied scripts sometimes also include prayer texts and folk melodies, although quite rarely.

The following conditions generally occur in hand copied scripts
Characters depict the story once they enter the scene
Characters depict the story once they enter the scene. Examples of this are Wang Shui-sheng’s Meng Ji-hung ke-ku, Huang Yuan’s Ke-ku, Chung Tian-chin’s Kuo Chi-ch’un, Zhang Ch’uan’s Chao-chun he fan, and Chueh Ming’s Wang Yu-ch’i shuang-pao chi. But, there were also those that first introduce the characters, such as Huang Yuan’s Ts’ui Hsueh-chung, Zhang Ch’uan’s He-tung chi? (1922), Zhang De-cheng’s Ts’ui Wen-jui and Chiao-ch’i chih huo.
There were even those that show representations of the characters and names of props on the list of characters. Of these, one who excelled was Zhang De-cheng, when, in his 1974 hand copy of Master Chikung Battles the Eight Devils, he made two columns, one each for the heroes and villains. Ts’ai Lung-hsi made little emphasis of the characters in the scripts, only adopting the list for his copies of Liu Yueh-he and Li-ching hsia-shan.
Frequent appearance of writing errors or the use of simplified characters.
Common simplified characters abound in some scripts. Citing Ts’ai Lung-hsi’s last hand copy of Ts’ui We-jui, writing errors are notable for the characters “yen,” “ch’ing,” and “ch’i.” Characters often written in the simplified form included “chung,” “chin,” “pao,” “tui,” “chan,” “pan,” “li,” “li,” “hsueh,” “ming,” “hsien,” “wan,” “lin” and others.
Words were written based on the Taiwanese dialect.
These include characters for “ching le” being written as “ch’ieh le,” “ch’ing-wen” as “ch’ieh- wen,” “chieh-man” as “ch’ieh-wan,” “yuen-ku” as “yen-ku,” “kai-ssu” as “chieh-ssu,” “kao-shang” as “k’ao-shang,” “shih-ch’ing” as “da-chih,” and “duo-mei” as “wai-shui.”
Name of songs are written when the characters are singing the song.
An example of this is the “Tien-chiang,” commonly sung when a martial role enters the scene. Others include “Yunfei,” “Yichih hua,” ”Hungnanao,” “Hsiashanhu,” “Hsiangliuniang,” and “Kunshan.”
Encircling and use of notation symbols.
After making hand copies, puppeteers use a system of encircling words and notation symbols for easier perusal, both during and before performance. These symbols normally are written in red or purple. For this reason, a script bearing no such marks is very likely never performed.
Includes texts of prayers and folk melodies.
A case in point is the hand copy of Ts’ui Hsueh-chung by Huang Yuan of Kangshan Township’s Houhsieh Village. It bears a prayer text and lyrics of the songs “shih-sung hsiao-mei ko,” “Shih ch’in-niang,” and “Pan chiu-yen ko-tzu.”

Samples of Old Scripts
Features of Shadow Puppets Flash

We will take the scripts of “Ts’ui Wen-jui” as an example to everyone how to read old scripts.

A summary of story “Ts’ui Wen-jui.”
The filial Ts’ui Wen-jui lived in a dilapidated kiln site with his widowed mother. He sold couplets in the streets to support his mother. One day, he met Zhang Ssu-chieh in the streets. She proposed to enter into marriage with Ts’ui. Zhang was the daughter of the Jade Emperor, and Ts’ui’s filial piety had moved the Jade Emperor. He commanded his daughter to be become a mortal and be married to Ts’ui. Ts’ui wanted to flee but Zhang caught up with him and insisted that he brought her to meet his mother. His mother worried that the newlyweds would have no place to live in. Zhang thus asked the little demons to move the Toutze Palace just outside the kiln site, and the couple got married.
Wang Ch’in, a rich scion that had just lost his wife, one day went out with his servant. He noticed the beautiful house, entered it and made a brotherhood pack with Ts’ui. He coveted the treasures of Ts’ui and the latter’s beautiful wife. He carried out a plan to invite Ts’ui for a banquet, and then and got him drunk. He started a fire himself and accused Ts’ui of stealing. Zhang Ying, a greedy official who drew false admission of guilt from Ts’ui by beating the latter, was later put into prison. Ts’ui servant told Zhang Ssu-chieh that her husband had been framed up, after which Zhang planned to save her husband. The prison guards beat Ts’ui for failing to bribe them. Zhang used her magical power to destroy the prison house, saved her husband and brought him home.
The prison guards reported the matter to Zhang Ying, the official. Zhang Ssu-chieh also killed Wang Chin in revenge. Zhang Ying, accompanied by his cohorts, tried to arrest Zhang Ssu-chieh, but instead were all rendered unconscious. They reported the case to Pao Kung, accusing Zhang Ssu-chieh of witchcraft and for sowing disorder. Pao Kung reported the matter to the emperor, who ordered Yang Wen-kuang to arrest Ssu-chieh.
Wen-Kuang went off to accomplish his mission but was intead imprisoned by Ssu-chieh inside a gourd. Wen-kuang’s daughter, Lan-hua, upon knowing his father was being held captive, went to challenge Zhang but was also defeated and detained.
Ssu-chieh convinced Lan-hua to jointly serve a common husband if she wanted to see his father again. Wen-kuang eventually was freed and reported the matter to Pao Kung, who brought his witch-killing sword and a witch-revealing mirror to arrest Ssu-chieh, but the two instruments failed to be effective, and he had to turn back. Pao Kung made instructions to prepare peacock blood, and a bed and a pillow that can recover lost souls. With his witchcraft he ascended to heaven to meet the Jade Emperor, who made commands to the Monkey King to pacify the unrest. Ssu-chieh defeated the Monkey King by burning his hair. The Jade Emperor then decreed that a sister of Ssu-chieh should descend to the earth to convince her sister to go back to heaven.
Ssu-chieh agreed. By this time, she had to tell the truth about her status to Ts’ui, to whom she gave a golden fan, saying that he should offer tributes to the emperor so as to attain success and fame. She then returned to heaven. Ts’ui followed Zhang’s advice, brought a rich array of precious objects to the capital as tributes for the emperor. The emperor learned about his filial piety, was moved and bestowed an official title and a wife to Ts’ui.

Picture(Ts’ui Wen-jui Greets His Mother on Her Birthday Ts’ui Wen-jui meets Zhang Ssu-chieh)

Special features of the script of Ts’ui Wen-jui
This is the traditional story of a beautiful woman and a talented man. What makes it interesting is the inclusion of such characters as the Seven Fairies, Pao Kung, the Monkey King and others. Ts’ui Wen-jui moved the Jade Emperor for his filial piety, for which he sent her daughter, Ssu-chieh, to earth and be married to Ts’ui. The powerful man Wang Ch’in coveted Ts’ui’s beautiful wife, framed up the husband, which made Ssu-chieh act to save her husband. This was the origin of the conflict in the whole story. Ssu-chieh’s acts of revenge triggered off a series of further conflicts. The greediness of Zhang Ying and the jail wardens point out the dark side of politics, and the reality of the good being oppressed in society.
Pao Kung, with his clean image, proceeded to stop the furor himself but was subjected to sorcery. He, by nature loyal and good, went to heaven to report the matter to the Jade Emperor. In this story, Wen-kuang and the Monkey King played secondary roles. The burning of the monkey’s coat added amusement to the story. Their adventures in trying to capture Ssu-chieh extended the dramatic conflicts and prolonged the tension of the story. The story emphasizes the fact that violence hardly solves problems, with Ssu-chieh only being convinced through close relationship with her sister. The climax of the story is the separation of the husband and wife, with scenes the move the audience.
Expectedly, the story ended with Yang Lan-hua being paired to Ts’ui, to replace Ssu-chieh who had returned to heaven. This is a story of double happiness with Ts’ui gaining an official position and a wife at the same time. Although this shadow puppet play combines literary and martial features, its inclusion of funny scenes and merriment cannot be overlooked. Wang Ch’in, although he was the source of the conflict, was also the cause of much laughter. His role is that of a jester, different from Zhang Ying’s supporting male role. The dialogue between Zhang Ying and his servant contrasts the former’s lack of wit with the latter’s intelligence. The roles were created with an air of gaiety. Ssu-chieh is the most important character in the play.
Like women roles in traditional scripts, she volunteered her love, just like Hsu Pi-ta’o in the Yuan drama Pi t’ao-hua, who showed her love to Zhang Tao. Ssu-chieh was intelligent and brave at the same time, like T’ao Chi-erh in Wang chiang t’ing, who showed her love to Zhang Tao. Ssu-chieh was intelligent and brave at the same time, like T’an Chi-erh in Wang chiang t’ing, who in the story cleverly took hold of the golden badge of Yang Ya-nei in order to save her husband, Pai Shin-chung. Ssu-chieh was also like Chao Fen-erh of Chiu feng-chen, who also used her wits to get the divorce letter written by Chou She, and in so doing saved Sung Yin-Zhang. They all can be considered as heroines. Yet, this script also fails to avoid traditional and often-seen bias for men, and the decadent concept of paying tributes so as to win official positions.
This can be seen in Wen-kuang and Lan-hua’s obedience to Ssu-chieh, and Ts’ui’s acquisition of official position after offering treasures as a tribute.

Asides, monologue and back-stage dialogue
The written style of this script is worth a closer look from the angle of modern scriptwriting. The first is its dialogues. In addition to the dialogues, the script also features asides, monologues and back-stage dialogue.

Asides are words spoken by a role in the presence of another, but unheard by the latter.

Sample of asides:(Demonstration)

Zhang Ssu-chieh: If you have not married yet, I’m orphaned at an early age and wish to marry a filial man. The ancients said that people destined to one another come to meet from a thousand miles away. Those not destined for one another never cross their paths.
T’sui Wen-jui retreats
T’sui Wen-jui: Aside I see a young woman who wants to force me into marrying her. I’m afraid people will see us. It’s bad and I must trick her so that I can escape through the alley.
T’sui Wen-jui moves forward
T’sui Wen-jui: Miss, who’s that person behind you?
Female lead turns her back Male role enters the alley
In shadow puppet theater scripts, “thinking,” means a monologue. He first repeated the previous act when he saw Ts’ui’s home and wife, before expressing a wish to frame up Ts’ui and take hold of the latter’s wife.

Monologues are delivered by a character standing alone in front of the audience, as a way to express what he or she feels. For instance, when Wang Ch’in saw Zhang Ssu-chieh, he wanted to lay his hands on her. He uses a monologue to express his devilish plot:
Sample of monologue:
Wang Ch’in enters
Wang Ch’in: (Thinking or a monologue) Look at me. I lord it over half of the city. I had visited Ts’ui’s home the other day and I found it rather amazing. I saw his wife. She was so beautiful, beautiful as a heavenly fair.
Let me think about it now. Sung Miss, you heard it said…Monologue I think I must postpone thinking about this treasure of a home. Let me think of a plot. What can I think of now? Oh yes! Later I’ll send my servant to invite him for a drink at home. When he’s drunk, I’ll set fire to my stable, and accuse Ts’ui Wen-jui of conniving with bandits to rob my home and burn my property. Then I’ll bribe the local official to send him to death. And his wife will be mine. Instruction Send the servant to me.
In shadow puppet theater scripts, “thinking,” means a monologue. He first repeated the previous act when he saw Ts’ui’s home and wife, before expressing a wish to frame up Ts’ui and take hold of the latter’s wife.

Back-stage dialogue
Back-stage dialogue in shadow puppet theater come in two forms. One is done before the character appears on stage. After it is delivered, the character immediately enters the scene.

Sample of soliloquies:

Ts’ui Wen-jui: Back-stage dialogue. The young lady can remain here outside the old kiln. I’ll go inside to explain things to my mother.
Lead female makes no dialogue
Ts’ui Wen-jui enters
Ts’ui Wen-jui: Greetings to my mother.
Back-stage dialogue 2:
Although the character has not appeared, the audience knows that the character is on stage. He uses back-stage dialogue to show nobleness. For instance, in this story, the Sung Emperor and the Jade Emperor never really appeared. When they both gave Pao Kung an audience, their dialogues were presented in the form of back-stage dialogue. The same was adopted when Ts’ui presented his tributes to the Sung Emperor. When Pao Kung went to see the emperor, the script says:
Pao Kaung: Hail to the emperor!
Back-stage dialogue: My servant Pao. I did not sent for you. You must have something to say by ascending the golden steps. Say what you have. If there’s nothing, you may depart the hall.
Pao Kung: My Lord, let me sing present my case…
Back-stage dialogue: I feel angered by what you have just reported. A witch is sowing chaos in the streets and alleys. She destroyed the prison walls and released a detainee. I declare that Yang Wen-kuang of Chiashan Chai should lead soldiers in capturing that witch of a woman. They will be well rewarded. Rise now, my servant.
Pao Kung: Hail to My Lord! Enters

Asides, monologue and back-stage dialogue
Lastly, if we compare this script with that copy made by Zhang The-cheng, it is easy to discover that Ts’ai’s version missed a portion of the contents, or that there were translocations made. The number of songs was also reduced, but these did not alter the overall structure of the play. For instance, in Zhang’s script, before Ts’ui Wen-jui started selling couplets, there was a dialogue between mother and son. His mother, Zhang, recited a poem the first time she entered the stage. It says: “It’s unfortunate that my husband died early. I worried for we are poor and have no one to depend on. We couldn’t manage with the three meals each day. My sole appeasement is to have a son who’s filial and righteous.”
When Ts’ui first ventured out to sell couplets, he sang “Yun-fei.” Ts’ail’s version did not specify this song. When Zhang Ssu-chieh and Ts’ui Wen-jui first met, the former sang “Hung-nan ao” in Zhang The-cheng’s copy, and their dialogues had more lines. In the plot, when Zhang Ssu-chieh directed the little devils to transfer Toutze Palace to the kiln site, Zhang The-cheng’s script had Ssu-chieh herself giving the command and overseeing it done on the spot.
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