Roumiou and Youliye

Romeo and Juliet, Tibetan version

The nation's confidence had sunk to a low ebb by 1942, in the most difficult period as the Second Sino-Japanese War entered its fifth year. The theatre community in the Nationalist-controlled area tried its utmost to raise people's morale and many new productions were staged, especially during the foggy season which prevented Japanese aerial bombing. A notably successful production was Cao Yu's translation of Romeo and Juliet, directed by Zhang Junxiang. Although Cao Yu felt it was impossible to follow the original iambic pentameter, he composed Chinese rhymed verses to express the poetry of the play.

At least five different Chinese translations of Romeo and Juliet have been published, yet Cao Yu's work was so well-suited for the stage that it is still the most often used version for performances. Indeed, based on his translation, an adaptation into Tibetan was performed in 1981 (pictured above).

Quotation from Cao Yu:

I found this tragedy full of optimism. It does not make people feel sad, rather, it resembles April's weather, changing so quickly between sunshine and rain. It is also like a young girl: she is laughing at one moment, but immediately she comes to sob quietly against your shoulder.

- Preface to the reprint of the translation of Romeo and Juliet, 1979

Back to 'An Introduction to Cao Yu'