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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 THREE: Under the Web of Realism: Lin Zhaohua’s Uncle Doggie’s Nirvana

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CHAPTER THREE Under the Web of Realism: Lin Zhaohua’s Uncle Doggie’s Nirvana The three plays, Absolute Signal, The Bus Stop, and Wild Man, written by Gao Xingjian and directed by Lin Zhaohua, reflect ambitious experimental at- tempts at incorporating expressionist techniques during the first half of the 1980s, when Chinese theatre began to experience more and more freedom fol- lowing the Cultural Revolution. Simultaneously expressing the embrace of var- ious Western dramatic theories and an awakening to the arts of the traditional Chinese opera, the team not only shared leadership in the attack on realistic dramatic conventions, but also engaged in a practice that was not familiar to their contemporaries. Staged by the nation’s most prestigious theatre, they una- voidably attracted much public attention and various critical responses, thereby effortlessly escaping from the spotlight of government censorship. Lin Zhaohua’s 林兆華 (b. 1936) position in contemporary Chinese theatre has been held in incomparably high esteem. Even though his career as a director of the Beijing People’s Art Theatre has never been free from criticism, he is less often disparaged in the political arena than Gao Xingjian has been. In 1961, he joined the theatre as an actor and became a resident director in 1978, debuting with his independent production of Wei xingfu ganbei 為幸福乾杯 (Toast for Happiness) in 1980. The visual side of Lin Zhaohua’s aesthetic can readily be seen in the empty stage specified in the play, which is regarded as the first play without painted scene panels (jingpian 景片) produced by the...

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