The Black-bearded Bai and other plays from Asian folk lore

Author: Richard Baines, Publisher: Phoenix

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.

More Information
Year Level Year 7, Year 8, Year 9, Year 10
Date of Publication 2013
ISBN 9781921586699
Subject English