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Expressionism and Its Deformation in Contemporary Chinese Theatre

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Yuwen Hsiung

Expressionism and Its Deformation in Contemporary Chinese Theatre provides both rigorous readings of dramatic works as well as a historical overview of Chinese theatre from the 1980s to the present. Expressionism becomes a discursive locus to be incorporated and even transformed during a critical phase in the modernization of Chinese drama during the post-Maoist era.
Six leading Chinese dramatists (Gao Xingjian, Lin Zhaohua, Huang Zuolin, Xu Xiaozhong, Meng Jinghui, and Stan Lai) are clear representatives of opening up a new world of modern Chinese drama. They embody each of the major phases of the adoption, deformation, and multicultural infusion of Expressionism in the development of Chinese dramatic modernization. Approaching their dramatic works from multiple perspectives, including expressionist vision and techniques, comparative aesthetics, Bakhtinian chronotope and heteroglossia, semiotics, «psychic interiority», and concluding with Lu Xun’s definition of Expressionism as «to write a good deal about yourself», Chinese dramatists’ enthusiasm for Expressionism is not just an artistic rejoinder to the spiritual aspirations of life in a time of rapid industrialization and modernization but also a coming-to-terms with the ideological and aesthetic conflicts between different dramatic traditions.
Expressionism and Its Deformation in Contemporary Chinese Theatre is the first scholarly book to explore the deep and intricate relationship between Expressionism and contemporary Chinese drama, attempting to assume the critical task of challenging these dramatists while delineating the contours of the most recent trends of Chinese theatre. This book could situate itself within the Chinese scholarly and theatrical contexts for English readers as it is an accessible text for both undergraduate students and graduates and scholars.

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CHAPTER TWO: The Influx of Expressionism in Post-Maoist Theatre: Gao Xingjian’s Trilogy

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CHAPTER TWO The Influx of Expressionism in Post-Maoist Theatre: Gao Xingjian’s Trilogy In recent book on Gao Xingjian 高行健 ( b. 1941), Gao Xingjian and Transcul- tural Chinese Theater (2004), Quah Sy Ren concludes that Gao has “transcend- ed the burden of C. T. Hsia’s ‘obsession of China,’ which had dominated the consciousness of several generations of Chinese writers in the twentieth centu- ry.”1 Quah makes this statement with respect to overruling the “loss-of-contact” attack on Gao by dramatists like Lin Kehuan 林克歡 in China. Although it is possible to enter into the debate of whether a writer should be physically cir- cumscribed by the sociocultural context he writes about or transcend national boundaries, it is more pertinent to note that Gao Xingjian has gradually receded from the field of drama in China since his departure for France in 1987. No af- firmative response was made by the Chinese government after Gao received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2000. Nor have any of his plays and novels written after 1987 been staged, or even published, in mainland China. Even though Gao has not been accepted and endorsed by the Chinese authorities, Gao Xingjian’s leading position before exile is too essential to be dismissed completely when drawing the contours of Chinese modern drama in the post-Maoist era. Following his graduation from the Beijing Institute of Foreign Languages (Beijing waiguoyu xueyuan 北京外國語學院)2 in 1962 with a degree in French Literature, Gao Xingjian worked as a translator in the Foreign Language Bureau. He...

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