This term, first coined by Li Yu (1611-1680), refers to the last scene of the first half of a play. It includes the requirement for and techniques of concluding the first half of the play. Besides the structural completeness of this section, all the relevant characters and events should have appeared by now or been duly introduced, and no ongoing event should be interrupted without a proper reason. Meanwhile, main conflicts should have unfolded, leaving clues to be uncovered later and keeping the audience in suspense. A serial drama, performed in multiple installments, as well as extra long folklore, often use this withdrawal technique to temporarily satisfy the audience’s curiosity or keep them guessing what is to come next.
Toward the end of a play’s first half, plot development should be suspended and the beating of gongs and drums ceased for the moment. This is what is called “midpoint conclusion.” At such a juncture, the plot should be well-knit rather than drawn out, and the atmosphere lively rather than cheerless. (Li Yu: Occasional Notes with Leisure Motions)
Ziyou, the main character in the Ming Dynasty opera Fragrant Jade, has Yusheng and four or five other concubines. These women cannot play out their roles during this scene, and even at the end it is hardly possible to cover every one. Thus, while some of them are given prominence, the rest look irrelevant. (Qi Biaojia: Commentaries on Ming-dynasty Drama from Yuanshan Studio)