A Couple of Soles is a classic comedic romance by the seventeenth-century playwright Li Yu. Tan Chuyu, a poor young scholar, falls in love with the beautiful actress Liu Miaogu. He joins her family’s acting troupe, and, in plays within the play, romance ensues. After Liu’s family attempts to marry her off to a local country squire, she performs a famous scene in which a heroine drowns herself—and then jumps off the stage into a river, followed by Tan. The local river deity rescues the lovers from death by transforming them into a pair of soles. Li balances their romance with the adventures of a retired upright official involving banditry, bribery, and mistaken identity—and who nets and shelters the two fish when they regain human form.Written at a time when China was beginning to recover from the cataclysmic Ming-Qing dynastic transition, A Couple of Soles displays Li’s biting wit as well as his reflections on the concerns of his age, including the dangers of administrative service and the role of theater in society. The play combines witty wordplay and caustic satire with a strong emphasis on traditional moral values. The first major comedy from late imperial China to appear in English translation, A Couple of Soles provides an unparalleled view of the theater in seventeenth-century China. A general introduction and a detailed appendix shed further light on the play and its context.
The narrative poems in this collection are written by Sir Walter Scott - the well-known Scottish poet and novelist. Each of these five poems are based loosely upon German ballads: rewritten in flowing English meter.* The Chase - a.k.a. The Wild Huntsman - A profligate, noble-born keeper of the royal forest - avidly addicted to the pleasures of the hunt - cruelly uses and mistreats his fellow-men. One day God's messengers come to test him: executing sentence immediately in just proportion to the huntsman's responses.* William & Helen - William - long thought dead - unexpectedly returns at midnight from the crusades to marry his betrothed. Helen - relieved at his return - joyfully agree,s after initial misgivings: follows him on horseback into the night. Approaching the church in which they will celebrate their wedding: it is clear to Helen that all is not what it seems. But, with their mutual love strong enough to transcend death itself - what can possibly go wrong?* The Fire King - Count Albert never returns from crusade: having being imprisoned by Saracens. Rosalie, his betrothed, swears to leave at once for Lebanon to find him. Rosalie succeeds - but alas, all is changed between them forever: and their parting is death itself.* Frederick & Alice - Frederick breaks troth and abandons the beautiful Alice: sending her mad with grief. But Alice contrives to meet her faithless lover once more: beyond the grave.* The Erl-King - The Erl-King (or Oak-King) sings for the soul of a human boy: who cringes for dear life within the arms of his father riding home through the dreary wood. But do spirits really have power to charm away the lives of the living?(Introduction by Godsend)
The United States has July 4th, Ireland St Patrick’s Day and France Bastille Day.
Most Nations celebrate a particular day as ‘theirs’. That day is when they turn to themselves; to reflect on the past, to revel in the present and to look forward to the future.
For England 23rd April is St George’s Day.
St George, a hero from bygone days, who slays Dragons and pursues other mythic deeds, is part of childhood. But for modern times, for modern Nations, a greater purpose is needed.
For England St George is best now described as a principle. A small Nation grown large and respected for its brainpower, brawn and ingenuity and fighting for beliefs, misguidedly or not, that others can’t or won’t.
Of course England’s role has changed many times over the centuries but perhaps its basic tenets and desires haven’t. Fair Play. A role for everyone on equal terms. Democracy. Tolerance. A safe haven for those oppressed. England ‘expects’ and sometimes succeeds.
One of the most important dramatic works from the acclaimed Russian playwright and “father of the modern dysfunctional family comedy” (Hyde Park Herald). A classic four-act romantic tragedy, Uncle Vanya is essentially a reworking of an earlier Chekhov play, The Wood Demon. It tells the story of a retired university professor and his extended middle-class family. When the professor unexpectedly announces he is about to sell his country estate, scheming between the play’s nine principle characters ensues. Tensions crest when their security is threatened and disappointments from the past—unrequited feelings, miseries, and failures—shockingly resurface. One could think of Uncle Vanya, which had its Moscow premiere in 1899 and remains a favorite of theatergoers to this day, “as the forerunner of existential tragicomedies like Waiting for Godot and No Exit. Underlying the characters’ boredom, frustration, and desperation is the monumental realization that their lives are meaningless and have no purpose, even if some of them are in denial” (Hyde Park Herald). “Uncle Vanya is a study of ennui, unfulfilled desires, and the misery of rural isolation. Yet it’s also funny—full of Chekhov’s social satire and disdain for hypocrisy.” —Go London
From the award-winning author of Kettle Bottom, a sequence of fairytale-inspired narrative poems concerning the life of a troubled girl.Once upon a time, there lived a girl whose story was not her own . . . So the story goes: Neglected and abused by her family, eclipsed by her elder and more beautiful sister, a young girl longs for happily-ever-after, for something, someone to rescue her. She is soon swept away into the next chapter of her life: marriage—a promising world mirroring Old Testament stories and fairy tale traditions. But loving just anyone and living the age-old “ever-after” narrative, as it turns out, fails to bring true happiness after all. Dragged down by a destructive marriage, her sister’s continued manipulations, and the growing weight of roles and expectations created by others at her back, she must choose between continuing in her familiar, complacent life, or boldly breaking free—and finally making her own way. Named for an Appalachian murder ballad in which a girl is drowned by her sister, this lyrical fairy tale unseats expectations for what it means to live a fairy tale life, revealing the powerful force that comes from stripping away the traditional roles and beginning to write a story all your own.Praise for Dreadful Wind & Rain “Ache and lift and veracity tambourine through these lines and stanzas. This . . . collection exults its power inside our ears and through our hearts in a rich, stinging, marvelous way . . . I believe that Diane Gilliam is incorruptible as a poet.” —Nikky Finney, poet, winner of the National Book Award for Head Off & Split
“The wit and swagger” of this collection by the celebrated Scottish poet “belie a skill as a technician that she shares with the greats” (Scotsman, UK). This poetry collection by Liz Lochhead features never before published work along with poems written during her time as Scots Makar—Scotland’s national poet. They from commissioned works, such as ‘Connecting Cultures’, written for the Commonwealth Games in 2014 to more personal works, such as ‘Favourite Place’, about holidays in the west coast with her late husband. Throughout her career, Lochhead has been described variously as a poet, feminist-playwright, translator and broadcaster but has said that ‘when somebody asks me what I do I usually say writer. The most precious thing to me is to be a poet. If I were a playwright, I’d like to be a poet in the theatre.’
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