YU LING (1907—1997)
YU LING (1907—1997). Playwright. A member of the Left-wing Association of Chinese Writers, Yu Ling was a progressive playwright and filmmaker in war-torn China of the 1930s and 1940s. When Japan invaded Shanghai in 1937 and the Chinese government abandoned the city, Yu Ling, together with Ouyang Yuqian and other artists who stayed behind, established Lan niao ju she (the Blue Bird Theater Club) and performed, among others, Cao Yu’s Leiyu (Thunderstorm) and Ri chu (Sunrise) as well as his own plays in the relatively safe French Concession district. Between 1937 and 1941, Yu wrote more than two dozen plays, some of which were later turned into films in Hong Kong and Shanghai.
Yu’s works, characteristic of the times, overwhelmingly center on the theme of national salvation. Ye Shanghai (Dark Nights in Shanghai), which was staged in 1939 to mark the second anniversary of the Japanese invasion of Shanghai, portrays the chaos and destruction in Shanghai following the Japanese invasion; Chang ye xing (Travel during Long Nights), a four-act play, presents the different moral choices people are forced to make under Japanese rule; Qiyue liu huo (Fire in July), a five-act play staged in 1961, focuses on the heroic resistance against the Japanese put up by the people of Shanghai led by the Communist Party. A prolific playwright with more than 60 plays to his name, Yu served, after 1949, as director of the Shanghai Film Studio and president of the Shanghai Theater Academy. See also CIVIL WAR; SINO-JAPANESE WAR; SOCIALIST REALISM; SPOKEN DRAMA.