The Black-bearded Bai
Product Code: 978-1-921586-69-9
and other plays from Asian folk lore
by Richard Baines
The Black-bearded Bai is the first of six plays based on Asian folk lore and written specifically for use by junior and middle secondary students.
The plays are:
The Secret Housewife
The Secret Housewife illustrates a common theme in Oriental folklore. The story may be about a tien, or immortal, but it is really about loneliness, growing old and the difficulty of adapting to a changing world. This sad tale works well as a quiet, tragic mystery.
The Black-bearded Bai
A favourite theme in Chinese folklore is the triumph of intelligence over brute force. This idea is often linked with the victory of a poor person over a wealthy one. The story of Aina-kizz and the Black-bearded Bai fulfils both of the above, and is an amusing and satisfying tale. It seems natural to present it as a Brechtian comedy.
Ido and the Devil
This is a traditional story of good versus evil. Rather than turn Ido into an angel it seemed more fun to portray him as a large, innocent, artless adolescent schoolboy. And rather than portray the Devil as a traditional monster, it seemed more entertaining to depict him as a comic character, lacking in confidence but with a cheeky irrepressible nature. This script has turned into a modern-day absurdist morality play.
Ken Arok is a fascinating, complex character. He is both a treacherous man and also a brave warrior. To some he is a hero, to others a villain. There is some cheerful comic banditry in Act 1, but the piece ends as a riveting physical drama, complete with stage fights and murder.
The Kimono of O Same San
This story is set in old Tokyo during a famous tragedy that took place in 1657. It is a gentle tale about a girl named O Same. It is also a very violent story. These two seemingly opposing qualities of gentleness and violence have always lain together at the heart of Japan’s history. This play, then, is a tragic love story.
There are many folktales in other cultures about being in the right place at the right time. This is a satisfying story imbued with a quiet Indian humour. It seemed appropriate to present it as a short Bollywood musical.
Apart from being enjoyable and relevant plays, they offer an insight into the culture of the country the play comes from.