Spilt Water Broken Axe Mountain Spilt Water
"Poured water cannot be retrieved."

"The Lanke Mountain" tells a folk story which spawned the Chinese proverb - "Poured water cannot be retrieved." In the Han dynasty (206 BC-221AD), Zhu Maichen, a scholar living in poverty at the foot of the LanKe Mountain, was pressed by his wife Cui Shi for a divorce. After much acrimonious and vituperative shouting on the part of Cui, Zhu reluctantly obliged. Once freed from her first marriage, Cui promptly remarried an odious but well-to-do carpenter. Soon afterwards, however, her second husband fell on hard times, leaving her in destitution again. At the same time, Zhu passed the government examination and was appointed governor of the province. When Zhu was making his way to the governor's mansion, Cui stopped the procession and pled with Zhu to take her back. Zhu poured a pail of water on the ground and told Cui that he would take her back if she could retrieve the poured water. She could not. So Zhu left. Cui, totally mad then, jumped into a nearby river and drowned.

In the play, Cui, the heroine, undergoes a traumatic experience that is rarely seen in Kunqu plays. Kunqu performances are generally marked by subtlety and restraint; but the part of Cui must be acted with a total abandon. It is so unusual that a special role-type is named after it in Kunqu theater: the 'sleeves-rolled-up female role' (qiao xiu dan). Cui is a woman of such unruly emotions that throughout the play she has her long sleeves, used in Kunqu Theater to show delicate feelings, rolled up -- demonstrating her perpetually belligerent nature. Another unusual feature of the role is that actors playing Cui must use their natural vocal cords, not the traditional falsetto, in arias and recitativi, so as to reveal her unrestrained lust for wealth, fame and happiness.

Cao Jia (A Domestic Dispute)

Cui, weary of the poor, hopeless life, keeps finding fault with her husband Zhu. Zhu puts up with her and makes peace with her once and again.

Xue Qiao (Seeking Firewood in the Snow)

Zhu ventures out in the snow to look for firewood. Hungry, shivering, and struggling with the slippery snow, he comes back empty-handed. Waiting for him at the door is his merciless wife.

Bi Xiu (A Reluctant Divorce)

Cui can no longer bear the hardship. Encouraged by a matchmaker, she presses Zhu for a divorce. Finally, Zhu gives in, but he warns Cui of its irreversibility. After signing the divorce papers, Zhu passes out. Cui has some pity on him. Nevertheless, with her future on her mind, she takes her leave relentlessly.

Chi Meng (A Maddening Dream)

Cui Shi is at her front door when messengers from the Ministry of Examinations walk by and tell her the shocking news: Zhu Maichen has passed the government examination and is appointed governor of the province. Returning to her dilapidated room, Cui Shi realizes what a mistake she made in her life. Exhausted, she dozes off to a happy dream, in which Zhu Maichen sends for her. Her elation, however, is short-lived as she soon wakes up from the dream. The scene ends with the distraught Cui Shi deploring her former rash decision and her present wretched condition.

Video Clip 1, Video Clip 2

Po Shui (Water Poured)

"Water Poured" takes place when Zhu arrives in town to assume his post. He is on his way to his official mansion when he comes across a waiting and delirious Cui, now eager to be his wife again. She stops the procession and pleads to Zhu to take her back. After some recriminatory exchanges, Zhu comes up with a ruse to discourage Cui's wish to reconcile. Zhu orders a subordinate to bring forth a pail of water. He tells Cui that he will have the water poured on the ground, and he would take her back only if she could retrieve the poured water. She agrees and water is poured. Naturally, she cannot retrieve the water, as she, in her delirium, thought she could. He leaves her and pushes on. Cui jumps into a nearby river in her frantic attempt to retrieve some water, and drowns.

烂柯山 The LanKe Mountain

烂柯山

昆曲《烂柯山》的故事是以『汉书』朱买臣传为本,由元代《渔樵记》杂剧演化而成,叙述汉朝朱买臣马前泼水的故事。写朱买臣砍柴度日,养家不活,朱妻崔氏不耐贫寒,又受了媒婆的蛊惑,逼迫买臣写下休书。 买臣受此刺激,在友人的资助之下,上京赴试。崔氏改嫁后,生活仍然不美满,再度离异。后买臣高中得官回来,崔氏于官道上拦住朱买臣的马头,要求破镜重圆。买臣命人泼水于马前,让崔氏知道覆水难收。 崔氏无奈,悔恨中投水而死。目前摘取精华折子「吵家」、「雪樵」、「逼休」、「疑梦」及「泼水」等折串成两小时的演出,全剧成为一出传统与现代奇妙的融合,既保存了昆曲典雅、诗化及美的本质,更加重了对角色的塑造、 气份的拿捏,使这出戏成为精彩的好戏。

《烂柯山》的戏剧张力是中国戏曲中少见的,细腻中要有激情,才能显出贫贱夫妻的悲哀与覆水难收的悔恨。剧中朱买臣由老生应工,唱念作表均需随内心感情予以变化,要做到「志、苦、情、绝」。 「吵家」时逆来顺受,忍耐中却突出了穷书生的习气,表现朱买臣的「志」。「雪樵」时身段表情有滑跌挣扎、饥寒颤抖、抱肩缩背等,来表现风雪中上山砍柴力尽神疲的情景,表现朱买臣的「苦」。 「逼休」时百般无奈,写完休书昏倒在地,回醒后又强忍热泪,表现朱买臣的「情」。「泼水」时又气又怜,内心的冲突要有充分的表现,最后忍心而去,表现朱买臣的「绝」。 崔氏一角由正旦中的翘袖旦应工,正旦采用本嗓,咬字吐音比较用力,因此有「雌大面」之称。翘袖旦的水袖折起不用,大都是违反传统,性格刚烈尖锐的妇人,因此时而神情迫切、 时而声调悲凉。其中「疑梦」一出尤具特色,由于在梦中一厢情愿,崔氏眼神放光,精神抖擞,提脚抬腿前后踢裙,夸大了动作的幅度,和院子、衙婆的夹白低沈而带有梦幻的情调,形成强烈的对比。

昆曲是曲牌体的戏剧,每出戏是由多个曲牌所组成。每一曲牌有特定的旋律及调式,调式相近的曲牌连在一起就形成曲套,因而曲套关系到一出戏的音乐形象。剧作家灵活的选择不同调式、笛色的曲套, 运用音乐的手段来配合剧情的起伏。曲牌的调式、笛色差距越大,对比性也就越强烈。《烂柯山》中「疑梦」一折就是一个鲜明的例子。

「烂柯一梦警愚人,反目声中始激情。破壁残灯零碎月,蚌形玉貌泪痕新。纤腰旋转皆成矩,莲步翩翻似电轮。覆水难收含意锐,词精艺炼两堪珍。」--海宁许姬传

吵家 - 『今朝要伊发落要伊安置』
「吵家」写崔氏不耐贫寒无理取闹,而朱买臣逆来顺受,逼与忍对比鲜明。崔氏取闹中仍须流露出小家碧玉的个性,买臣在忍耐中突出了穷书生的习气。

雪樵- 『空担儿且回穷窝巢』
「雪樵」写风雪天买臣上山砍柴不得,无奈而回。身段表情有滑跌挣扎、饥寒颤抖、抱肩缩背等,来表现风雪中上山砍柴力尽神疲的情景和无柴惧怕崔氏吵闹的心理。

逼休 -『患难中偏要去把别树□』
「逼休」写崔氏受媒婆蛊惑,于是逼迫买臣写休书。买臣强颜陪笑但是得不到崔氏的回心,无奈之中只得应允,但警告崔氏不要日后生悔。买臣写完休书昏倒在地,崔氏虽然不忍,但为了自身的未来,狠心而去。

疑梦 -『来接旧夫人』
「疑梦」演崔氏听到朱买臣做官回来的消息,悔恨交加,闷闷入梦。睡梦中,以为朱买臣派人回来接她上任,欣喜万分,不想惊醒以后仍然只有「破壁、残灯、零碎月」相伴。 本出中崔氏在梦中听到门外敲门的一段,包含「渔灯儿」及「锦渔灯」两支赠板曲。赠板曲是将一板三眼的节奏增长一倍,一般来说和缓细腻,但是这两支曲的入声字、入声韵特别多,南曲唱入声字要断, 因此节奏分明,而且为了配合剧情,每句速度都不同,极为特殊。由于在梦中一厢情愿,表演也就比较夸张。而院子、衙婆的夹白低沈,带有梦幻的情调。

泼水 -『难将覆水收盆内』
「泼水」演崔氏梦醒之后,悔恨交加,然而心中希望买臣能念旧情收转前妻,于是拦住买臣的马头。买臣鉴于崔氏的落魄,本欲应允,但是畏于悠悠众口,乃赠金准备离去。 崔氏再三哀求,买臣乃泼水于马前,如果崔氏能将水收回,就收留她。怎奈覆水难收,崔氏受此打击,投水而死。 此出中的崔氏精神已陷入恍惚状态,唱做不按常轨,节奏忽快忽慢;买臣又气又怜,内心的冲突也要有充分的表现。因此两人的演唱都相当夸张,这在昆曲中是相当少见的。

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