Suzhou Tanci, also known as “Xiao Shu” (short storytelling), developed from Tao Zhen art in China’s Yuan Dynasty. It originated in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, and became popular in the Yangtze River Delta of Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and Shanghai. The Suzhou Tanci performance is usually a narrative art in the Suzhou dialect, accompanied with sanxian or pipa when singing. During the performance, the performers narrate, joke, play instruments, and sing, keeping the audience enthralled. Normally, there are 3 performance styles: Dan Dang(one performer), Shuang Dang(two performers), and even San Dang(three performers). The performance is mostly about legendary love stories, such as Lady White Snake, Jade Dragonfly, etc. In May 2006, the Suzhou Tanci was included in China’s national intangible cultural heritage list.
Admiring the Moon on Mid-autumn Day is an extract from The Legend of the White Snake, one of the four great Chinese folk love stories written during the Tang Dynasty. The Legend of the White Snake relates the poignant love story between Bai Suzhen, a white snake who had lived for over a thousand years and had transformed into a beautiful woman, and Xu Xian, a mortal doctor. Admiring the Moon on Mid-Autumn Day tells a part of the story where on the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival, Bai Suzhen and Xu Xian put aside the work in their pharmacy, to enjoy the moonlit night while taking a boat-ride on a lake along Shantang Street.