The Black-bearded Bai

ISBN: 9781921586699

Author: Richard Baines    Publisher: Phoenix Education

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

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.

Bind: paperback

Publication Date: 28-08-2013

Availability Date: 28-08-2013

Tags: May 2014   Education

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