The General & The Prime Minister
In the Warring States period of China (~470BC - 220BC),
there are seven independent states and they fight each other for dominance. Among them, the Kingdom of Qin is the strongest and always has the ambition of annexing the other six states. At one time Qin offers Zhao, a smaller kingdom, to exchange fifteen Qin's cities for a precious stone, HeShi Jade Disc. In consideration of Qin's strong position, the King of Zhao feels it difficult to refuse. But he is also hesitant as he knows Qin is not trustworthy.
At this point Lin Xiangru, a commoner, volunteers to travel to Qin and vows to bring back the Jade Disc if the promise of cities does not materialize. With great courage and intelligence, Lin Xiangru faces up to the almighty King of Qin, and manages to return the Jade Disc intact to Zhao. For this and his successful crisis management during another Qin-Zhao summit at MianChi, he wins the support of the King of Zhao and is made Chief Minister. This rapid rise in ranking triggers the envy of the widely respected General Lian Po, who is determined to embarrass Lin in public. Lin refrains himself and tries several times to avoid confronting General Lian, as he knows that the feud between them will harm the national security. Eventually the Chief Minister's restraint brings shame to General Lian, who in the end regrets his own selfishness and decides to ask for forgiveness by walking to Lin's house in person, with a shamble on his bear back. They reconcile and their alliance brings an extended period of peace to the Kingdom.
This is a great piece of stage play. It is based on true historical accounts of what happened in the Warring States period of ancient China. The play is filled with drama and entertainment: determination against hesitation, lust for power and struggle for survival, and selfish envy vs self-restraint. Some phrases from this story, such as 'Returning the Jade Disc intact to Zhao', and 'Pleading guilty with a shamble on the back' have become widely known idioms in China till today. The play is performed by the prestigious Chinese National Peking Opera, starring its most famous stage artist, Yu Kuizhi.