Operatic Script / Southern Opera
Xiwen (戏文) refers to script of traditional Chinese operas. The term also refers to southern China opera. The latter is a type of local opera which had developed from traditional folk songs and dances and was popular in China’s southeastern coastal areas from the late Northern Song Dynasty to the late Ming and early Qing dynasties. Xiwen became popular in northern China in the Song and Yuan dynasties, just like poetic drama set to music at the time. Southern opera later developed into the legends of Ming and Qing dynasties. This earliest and mature operatic form best represents traditional Chinese opera.
In the Southern Song Dynasty, a monk named Zujie in Yueqing County of Wenzhou rode roughshod over the locals. People resented what he did, so they compiled his evil deeds into opera scripts to make more people know about the ruffian and hoped that this would help bring him to justice. (Zhoumi: A Collection of My Rambling Notes from Hangzhou)
An opera script in the Song Dynasty consists only of songs, lines and jesting. (Xia Tingzhi: Preface to Biographies of Courtesans)