Yingtai and Juliet
By Zhuoyan Chen
YINGTAI ZHU, a 17-year-old
SIR GONGYUAN ZHU, her father
YINXIN, her maid, about her age
SHANBO LIANG, her cousin and close friend
WENCAI MA, her suitor, son of Prince
JULIET CAPULET, a 16-year-old
SIR CAPULET, her father
ROSALINE, her nurse
TYBALT, her cousin
PRINCE OF VERONA
Act 1, Scene 1, at Zhu’s
ZHU Nonsense! There is no time for your mischief. Yinxin, get this young lady dressed. I do not want to hear another word about this dressing up as a man thing ever again!
YINGTAI But father, on the last ball, which is my first social attendance, every man was trying to woo me. That was so disgusting and annoying. If I appear as a man, they will not bother me and I can have some time to my own, maybe to read some books or something.
ZHU Kid, here is what every girl born in a rich family should do: dress up yourself beautifully, learn enough to amuse men, go to social occasions, and marry well. Do not argue with me. I’m for your best.
Yingtai leaves for her own room, Yinxin follows.
YINXIN Lady, I told you that lord wouldn’t agree. Am I not right?
YINGTAI Yes, yes, you are so clever and wise.
YINXIN Forgive me for being straightforward, your ladyship. Considering your daily behavior, if you were born in another family, you must have been punished for a hundred times already.
YINGTAI I know, I know, because I am the only child, my father has spoiled me, blah, blah, blah. I have heard this a million times. Wait a minute, I have an idea. [whipers to YINXIN]
YINXIN [shouts while running out] Your lordship! Lady Yingtai is so sad that she has fainted!
SIR ZHU What now? Let me see her. Why is her face so pale? Is my denial really such a strike that she cannot afford? Alas, it cannot be so. Yinxin, go get a doctor.
YINXIN Yes, your lordship.
Both leaves. Then re-enters Yinxin.
YINXIN Lord is in the sitting room waiting. What now, lady?
YINGTAI We will sneak out of the window after I disguise as a man.
YINXIN Alas! What are you planning to do?
YINGTAI Shh! Be quiet.
Both leave and re-enter.
YINXIN Your lordship, the doctor is here.
SIR ZHU You look familiar to me. Yet I’m sure we’ve never met. May I ask your name, sir?
YINGTAI How could someone like me be familiar to someone so noble as your lordship. I heard that your daughter suddenly fell sick. I am here to help.
SIR ZHU [sighs] I don’t even know whether you could help.
YINGTAI Let me speculate. Is her sickness related to your refusal of her requirement?
SIR ZHU How…
YINGTAI There is only one way to cure her: do as she asks. [takes off disguise]
SIR ZHU Yingtai! [sighs] Alright, alright. Dress as you wish. You wouldn’t listen to me anyway.
YINGTAI Thank you father!
Act 1, Scene 2, at the ball at Capulet’s
TYBALT That guy seems weird.
JULIET You are just jealous because I said he is more handsome than you.
TYBALT Then why doesn’t he dance?
JULIET Let’s ask him.
TYBALT I don’t think that is a good idea…
YINGTAI [puts down her book] Hello, lady.
JULIET I’m Juliet, Juliet Capulet. May I ask your name?
JULIET I have noticed for a while. Why don’t you ask someone to dance?
YINGTAI Social occasions aim for meeting people of your own circle. I’m not the kind that would enjoying dancing and I don’t intend to meet any.
JULIET So what are you into? O I see, reading.
YINGTAI Reading is like experiencing other people’s life, so that you can see the world even if you are inside your room.
JULIET What is the world like?
YINGTAI The world is not like what it seems like. Your sensations might deceive you.
TYBALT Juliet, don’t take in everything other people tell you.
JULIET Yingtai, this is my cousin Tybalt. Tybalt, Yingtai.
TYBALT No offence, I just want to make sure Juliet is not kidnapped by a good-looking guy.
YINGTAI I think she is less gullible than you think.
JULIET Tybalt, would you please ask Rosaline where I had left my handkerchief?
TYBALT Yes, your ladyship.
JULIET Do you believe love at first sight?
YINGTAI It depends on who’s asking. May I ask you to dance with me, fair lady?
JULIET [dancing with Yingtai] What do you think love is?
YINGTAI A natural emotion. It could be like an erupting volcano, a massive waterfall combined of thin streams, or a wild forest formed by all the vines, grass, weeds, seedlings, and trees. Why do you ask?
JULIET I have just had a sudden feeling, as if Cupid grabs me by my collar and shoots an arrow right into, not my heart, but my brain. My brain is commanding me to dance closely to you while my sense of reason tells me it is not something a lady should do.
YINGTAI If I have profaned this holy shrine with my unworthiest hand, then is it sin for my lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand to soothe that rough touch with a tender kiss?
JULIET Good pilgrim, your hands are just showing your mannerly devotion, this is nothing wrong. For saints have hands that pilgrims’ hands do touch, and palm to palm is only holy palmers’ kiss.
YINGTAI Don’t saints and palmers have lips as well?
JULIET Yes, pilgrim, lips that they must use in prayer.
YINGTAI O then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do. They pray: please grant us, or else faith would turn into despair.
JULIET Saints do not move, though grant for prayers’ sake.
YINGTAI Then move not while my prayer’s effect I take. [kisses Juliet]
YINGTAI Thus from my lips, my sin is purged by you.
JULIET Then my lips have the sin that yours have took.
YINGTAI Sin from my lips? O what a sweetly urged trespass! Give me my sin again. [kisses Juliet]
ROSALINE Juliet! I’ve brought you your handkerchief!
YINGTAI By the name of the Bible, I shall see you soon.
JULIET Rosaline, do you know who that gentleman is?
ROSALINE Gentleman? Nay, that is not. I’ve overheard your father talking with Sir Zhu, I’m afraid that is the daughter of Zhu, a strange girl, hardly a lady, and definitely not a gentleman. Lady, what do you need your handkerchief for? I thought you need it right away since you’ve sent Tybalt for me.
JULIET A girl?
ROSALINE Yes, a girl. She is too tall for a girl of her age. Let me see… She is 17, yes, just one year older than you, Juliet. Her father said she doesn’t like being surrounded by strangers so that she dresses up as a man to avoid conversations. I saw you two talking just now. Is she really so strange as the rumors? Have you two become friends? Tell old nanny about it.
JULIET He…She is a really nice person. Her heart is as beautiful as her look. I just regret that I got to know her too early that when I know her it is already too late.
ROSALINE What is that? What do you mean?
JULIET It’s just a line she told me about.
ROSALINE Alright. Are you going to your room? Come this way. The guests are all leaving.
ACT2, Scene1, at Zhu’s
SIR ZHU Yingtai, we need to talk.
YINGTAI Father, isn’t it a bit late for serious conversations?
SIR ZHU I really have spoiled you. Go change your clothes then come back here.
YINGTAI Yes, father.
SIR ZHU I always told her to practice some skills to be a good bride but she just wouldn’t listen. Now I am arranging her to get married, what if her future husband does not like her?
SIR ZHU …You look just like your mother. But she has already married me at your age. Tell me, what do you think of marriage?
YINGTAI I am not considering that.
SIR ZHU You have to. Son of the Prince, Wencai Ma, has sent a huge amount of presents to you and seeks you for your love. He is a very wealthy man with bright future. If you marry him, our family would not only be richer but also has more glory.
YINGTAI I don’t deserve him.
SIR ZHU What are you talking about? Although we are not as wealthy, at least my title is higher than his.
YINGTAI Father, we two have lived together since mother passed away. If I get married, who will look after you? I am the only child in the family and you two were not young when you have me. How can I just leave you like this?
SIR ZHU How dare you? You are the one who protests the most every time I talk about marrying someone. What is wrong with you today? Are there any other reasons? Is because of the ball yesterday?
YINGTAI …Father, I met a girl at the ball yesterday…[kneels] I fell in love with her.
SIR ZHU [slaps her face] You ungrateful cold-blooded demon! The marriage is set. No more words. The wedding will take place next Monday. [leaves]
YINGTAI Prepare my suit. I need to see Juliet.
Yinxin supporting Yingtai, both leave.
Act 2, Scene 2, at Juliet’s balcony
JULIET [sighs] Yingtai, why are you a girl? I don’t hate you for being a girl. I hate myself for falling so easily. I don’t even know if you are just teasing me or—
YINGTAI I am all true to you!
JULIET Is it Yingtai who answered me, or just my own fantasy?
YINGTAI I don’t know how to tell you who am I. My identity, dear saint, I hate it myself, because it is an enemy to our love.
JULIET I have heard yet not thirty words, yet I know the sound. Are you not Yingtai, the so-said strange girl?
YINGTAI No, no, fair lady, if you do not like that, I can be the gentleman you met.
JULIET How did you come here, and what for? The orchard walls are high and hard to climb. Did you got hurt? And if anyone of my family finds out you are here, you will sure be placed death.
YINGTAI I flew over these walls with love’s light wings. The stony limits cannot keep love out. I do not fear your family, because they are just bodies of flesh and blood, while love has no vision, no sound, no smell, yet fierce as tornado. I am here to see you, because only your tender words can soothe my upset.
JULIET I really worry about you being caught. Please go back to your home, or else it will be too late.
YINGTAI Be at ease, the night has hidden me from their sights. As long as your love is mine, let them find me here. I’d rather let them find me than missing you till my last breath.
JULIET I’m so glad you cannot see my face in the dark, or else you will see the blush on my cheek. Stop complimenting me and answer a question. Do you love me? I know you will say “Yes” and I will take your word. Do not swear, because promises are made to be broken. They say that Jove would laugh at lovers’ perjuries. If you do love me, pronounce it faithfully. If you think I answer too quickly, I’ll frown and be preserve and say no so you would woo me. To tell you the truth, I like you too much I have no clue what I want you to do. Would you please just say “I love you”?
YINGTAI I love you.
JULIET Yes, this is all I need to know.
YINGTAI I could say this word of magic for a thousand times without getting bored. I could say it from the first sunbeam of dawn shone upon your window to the dew of midnight vapors in the next day’s sunlight. As long as you need me to secure you with these words, I will say it.
JULIET I don’t need you to repeat it even once more. They say lies become truth after you repeat it for a thousand times. I only need this once. But cherish it, for this is when I see your true sincere heart. I want the words to have a physical form, so that I can hold it in my hands, lock it up in my drawer, or eat it, make it part of myself, for your love completes me.
YINGTAI So does yours to me. The moment I saw your face, all my frustration fades away.
JULIET Sorry for being dull about your mood. What happened to you? You seem to be very upset and in need of comforting. If you love me, trust me with anything.
YINGTAI I surely do. I just do not know how to say it. Well, my father has known about us, mainly my affection to you. He has already arranged my marriage. After knowing this, he compellingly set the wedding on next Monday, which is three days later. I protested but he shut me up. I am working on an escape plan. What do you say?
JULIET Marriage?! How can your father do that! I’ll never leave you, wherever you go.
SIR CAPULET Who is screaming up there? Juliet? Do you realize it is midnight? Shush and go back to bed!
JULIET I’m so sorry. You really should go now, or else someone will find you here.
YINGTAI Three more words, and good night indeed. If you intend to come with me onto the journey, send me word tomorrow. Send me someone you can truly trust, and I’ll talk about how and when. If you don’t intend to come, I can understand. If so, goodbye and leave me to my grief.
JULIET My soul is all yours. A thousand times good night.
Servants coming up. Both leave.
Act 3, Scene 1, at Zhu’s
YINGTAI Shanbo, you have to help me.
SHANBO So that’s what happened after you wore my clothes to the ball. What a fuss.
YINGTAI Stop acting like you are irrelevant. Those are your clothes, remember? My plan is that I hide at your place for a while. When my father gives up forcing me to marry Wencai and breaks off the engagement, I’ll go back home and apologize to my father.
SHANBO That does not sound like a good plan to me. Sir Zhu will easily guess you end up being here and interrogate me. I will definitely keep you safe, but I’m not sure of all the servants. What if they give away your location?
YINGTAI I don’t have anywhere else to go. And there is no one else I can trust. Is there any cellar or secret chamber in your house?
SHANBO Well, you could hide in the wine cellar… Are you sure? Living there is much worse than just uncomfortable.
YINGTAI As long as I can survive. The cause of all the hiding and escaping is my love for Juliet. But she is the last one in the world to blame. I blame myself for recklessly fall in love with her, but it’s not her fault. Her only fault is the deadly attractiveness of her pure innocence and noble beauty. In order to build hope for our future, I can endure any suffering.
SHANBO I hope you remember your words. Don’t let the cruelty of life grind your edges. Take one more look at all these. You are about to abandon the life you are used to and live as a wanderer the moment you step out of the window. No one knows how long it will be. Consider your situation, it might be forever. Does she really worth it? Anyway, it’s almost dawn. Wear your mask and follow me through the window. Remember to be quiet and fast.
YINGTAI For love.
Act 3, Scene 2, at Capulet’s and Zhu’s
SIR CAPULET Are you sure you saw Yingtai Zhu sneaking out of Juliet’s balcony?
SERVANT A Lord, the four of us have all seen her. We are pretty sure it was Yingtai Zhu.
SIR CAPULET So, are you suggesting that my daughter is secretly in love with a witch?
SERVANT A Lord, we don’t dare to. We just report whatever we see. And all we see is that this lady Zhu has sneaked into our young lady’s balcony five nights in a roll. But she did not appear last night. The reason we report so late is it took us some time to identify the person.
SIR CAPULET That witch is unforgivable! Mistaking my daughter to think of her as a man, deceiving my daughter to fall in love with her, who knows what else has she done to Juliet! Guards! Search the city and capture the witch!
SERVANTS Yes, lord!
[enters another servant]
SERVANT B Your lordship, Tybalt is captured by Zhu and is beaten and tortured!
SIR CAPULET It seems the witch really has some power. Now this is official. Prepare my cart, let’s pay a visit to our prince.
SERVANTS Yes, lord.
SIR ZHU Repeat my command.
SERVANT C Your lordship, you told us to find a young man who looks like our lady. And quietly take him back home.
SIR ZHU And this is your answer? A half-dead Capulet?
SERVANT C Your lordship, he is the closest looking to lady we can find.
SERVANT D When we approached him, he somehow noticed us and drastically fought back. We had no choice but to fought him. We really didn’t intend to hurt him.
SIR ZHU Find a doctor and treat him well. You two take care of him until he got better. I’ll let him decide your punishment when he gets better. Now leave.
SERVANT D But lord, what about the mission?
SIR ZHU It’s none of your business now. Don’t you hear me? I said get out!
SIR ZHU Where can she go? I have already searched all the possible places and twice visited Liang. There is no way I missed her, but it happened. Now those fools accidently hurt the noble Capulet. The petty Sir Capulet would definitely do something against our family. I should better go to the palace and tell the Prince about all this before he convinces the Prince of falsehood.
Act 3, Scene 3, in the Royal Palace
SIR CAPULET Your Royal Highness, the Zhu girl is definitely a witch. She bewildered my daughter’s eyes and made herself a handsome young man in my daughter’s sight. She disguised her thin high-pitched voice to gentle male voice, and her pale face an attractive guy.
PRINCE My impression of the Zhu girl is pretty good. She is very knowledge for her gender, maybe a bit too knowledgeable. But it is not a bad thing for her. Is this really verified that she used witchcraft to seduce your daughter?
SIR CAPULET I think some of the books she read are about witchcraft and enchanting people, or else how to explain my daughter’s misbehavior?
SERVANT E Your Highness, Sir Zhu is here asking to see you.
PRINCE Let him in.
SIR ZHU Your Royal Highness. And Sir Capulet my friend.
SIR CAPULET Hello old friend, I heard my sister’s son has caused some trouble at your place, is that true?
SIR ZHU I wonder who you are talking about.
SIR CAPULET My nephew, Tybalt.
SIR ZHU Ah, he was acting suspicious around my house. My guards thought it was a thief and captured him. He defied drastically so my guards had to strike him. They didn’t intend to hurt him. He is now resting at my house. Now that you ask for him, I’ll send him to your place as soon as possible.
SIR CAPULET This is different than what I’ve heard about. One of Tybalt’s servant came back in panic, told us what he saw. According to him, they were just going to the fair. Then a group of people wearing masks came out of alleys and grabbed Tybalt. He secretly followed them and saw them end up being in your place. Can you explain that, Sir Zhu?
SIR ZHU Well, how do you know his servant is not lying to you to cover up his master’s wrong doing?
PRINCE Enough. I’ve sent people to investigate this. Before they report to me, we will talk about something else. Sir Zhu, have you considered about my son’s proposal to your daughter?
SIR ZHU Your highness, I am so ashamed to admit I have spoiled my daughter too much that she dares to defy my order. I have grounded her. I think she will figure out what is best for herself.
PRINCE Do you think you can fool me? If she wants to break off the engagement, let her. I don’t want my son to marry a witch.
SIR ZHU Maybe my daughter does have different thoughts, but it doesn’t mean she is a witch. Your highness, how can you put such a name to my daughter?
SERVANT E Your highness, the patrol leader hands in a report about today’s riot in the fair. Do you need it now?
PRINCE Bring it over. [reads] Good sirs, go back to your home. The judgement of Yingtai will be sentenced very soon.
SIR ZHU Your Royal Highness…
PRINCE You know the truth from the very beginning, don’t you? Talk no more, or I will have to sentence you as well.
SIR CAPULET Farewell, Your Highness.
Act 4, Scene 1, at Liang’s
SHANBO New story. Your father and Sir Capulet both left from the palace. Prince is going to sentence you be burnt to death for your witchcraft. Now the Prince has sent out his private armies to look for you. It much harder to hide from them than to hide from your father. What on earth have you done to deserve this?
YINGTAI Witchcraft? Those pathetic old fools have no idea how much power love has. Ha. Now I have nowhere to go. You cannot protect me. My own father is trying to nail me to the stake. My lover is so fragile and tender. O Juliet! If there is one more thing to keep me alive, it is your words, your eyes, your lips, your hands. One more sight of my goddess, and this pilgrim will gladly embrace her death.
SHANBO You look pale and a bit mad. Is there anything I can do for you?
YINGTAI Yes, yes, yes. Let me write something to tell Juliet to meet me here for one last time. I am not afraid of exposing myself to the eyes following her. Of all the eyes, Juliet’s are all I need and all I care about.
SHANBO I can see you have suffered from the hard life. You used to be slender, now you are skinny. Tell what you want to write, I’ll write it for you.
YINGTAI Shanbo, you are my closest and dearest friend. I can never thank you enough. I drag you into all this fuss without your permission. Now you are risking your life for me. If there is afterlife, you will definitely be the second one I repay, right after Juliet. Now go fetch a pen and a piece of paper. I hope my last words to Juliet can be preserved forever. What a strange creature word is! It cannot be seen yet can last forever. “Dear Juliet,” No, no, no. “My dearest, Juliet,” I am too nervous to say any other word in case they profane her name. “When you see the letter, I have already been sentenced death by fire. I hope to see you for the last time. I will meet you in the grove behind Liang’s house this midnight. Your faithful pilgrim.”
SHANBO Take a good rest. I will lead her here as soon as she reads the letter.
YINGTAI Farewell, my true friend, farewell.
SHANBO Stay alive. [leaves]
YINGTAI In case she arrives at the grove earlier than I do, I’d better go there first.
SERVANT E Who is it sneaking through the woods? Let’s go ask him. What? Isn’t it the Zhu girl our Prince asked for? Friends, let’s get her to the palace.
YINGTAI Can I have several more hours? I just need a little more time. I am waiting for my love. If I die before I see her, my death will make me a devil and I’ll revenge anyone stepped between us.
SERVANT E Don’t listen to her! She is a witch! She might enchant us with her words and voice. Just ignore her and get her to the palace. The sooner we get rid of her, the less our chance of being enchanted is.
YINGTAI So this is what my ought-to-be father-in-law think of me? Great. I can’t wait to see him.
Act 4, Scene 2, at the execution ground.
EXECUTIONER Is there any last words, witch?
YINGTAI Burn me as quickly as you can. Don’t let me remember your face, or else I will haunt you till your next life.
SERVANT C What a wicked witch! Burn her!
SERVANTS Burn her! Burn her!
[Executioner burns her.]
YINGTAI Who is that running wildly toward me? Can it be? Alas, this is the last place I wish her to come. I don’t want my divine angel to see blood-soaked execution ground, or the common crowd excited by the execution of human life. I know she is here to see me. But I really don’t want her to see me like this, in prison clothes, on the stake. My heart is full of thoughts I cannot feel the burning on my skin. My conscious is slowly leaving. I am so glad the last thing I see is her running toward me. [dies]
JULIET I didn’t know why my father suddenly grounded me until I saw Yingtai’s letter. It is all my fault. If I didn’t start the conversation, she would not end up like this. But if I am in her position, I would rather be burnt a thousand times than to never meeting her. My first and last love, my heart is tied to yours. I feel your pain in every vein under my skin. The fire is gnawing my inside out. How I wish I am made of water! So that I can put out the fire on you, even if I have to sacrifice myself.
SHANBO Juliet, I am going to leave this place. If you want to leave, you can come with me.
JULIET What is the point of leaving if she is not along with me? I have promised her, wherever she goes, I will accompany her. Now that she is being burnt on the stake, where else can I go?
[Juliet pushes through the crowd and hugs Yingtai’s body and ash.]
EXECUTIONER Soldiers! Get this witch’s company! Why do you all just stand there!
SERVANT D We are afraid of getting burnt.
JULIET Now there’s only you and me. What are the words you wished to say to me at the grove? [dies]
EXECUTIONER The fire is out. The execution is finished. Everyone please leave in order.
SHANBO I think I saw something in the ash. Two butterflies! So dazzling. So astonishingly beautiful. Look how they flew around each other. They must be the incarnation of Yingtai and Juliet. Now that they have their ending, I should perceive my own. Where should I leave for? [leaving]