Masters and Disciples (9)
The repertoires of storytelling are drawn mainly from the fount of historical and legendary themes, popular all over China in a wide range of oral and written genres. Between the drama, novel and quyi versions of these stories there is a common frame of reference to both main characters and plot, but the oral versions are relatively independent from the written novels and the drama, although there do exist intricate patterns of mutual borrowing. In Yangzhou pinghua, not only the dialectal form, but also the incorporation of numerous characteristic details from daily life in Yangzhou add to the local flavour.
In a survey from 1993, the traditional themes, shumu or shu, of Yangzhou pinghua are estimated to sixty-seven works, among which twenty-two themes are counted as extinct, in most cases leaving little more than the titles of the themes behind.
By word of mouth, generation after generation of storytellers have handed down the tradition of their masters, polishing and reworking the stories, recreating their own versions. The general idea is that the story grows better the longer it grows.
Next: Water Margin in Yangzhou Storytelling