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Theatres in the Round

Multi-ethnic, Indigenous, and Intertextual Dialogues in Drama

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Edited By Dorothy Figueira and Marc Maufort

This collection of essays explores some of the avenues along which the field of comparative drama studies could be reconfigured at the dawn of the twenty-first century. It offers a comparative analysis of theatre across national and linguistic boundaries while simultaneously acknowledging newer trends in ethnic studies. Indeed, the contributors to this critical anthology productively combine traditional comparative literature methodologies with performance approaches and postcolonial perspectives. In this way, they shed new light on the intertextual, multi-ethnic, and cross-cultural dialogues linking theatrical traditions from Europe, North America, Asia, Africa, and the Pacific region. This book’s broad scope bears testimony to the fact that transnational studies can fruitfully illuminate the multiple dramatic voices of our increasingly globalized age.

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Rossella Ferrari Beckett’s Chinese Progeny: Absurdity, Waiting, and the Godot Motif in Contemporary China 133

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Beckett’s Chinese Progeny: Absurdity, Waiting, and the Godot Motif in Contemporary China Rossella FERRARI SOAS, University of London “Nothing to be done,” Estragon states, matter-of-factly, in the very first line of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot (11) and again, repeatedly, throughout the play. In the Western dramatic imaginary, this lapidary statement has come to encapsulate a sense of impotence and nihilism deprived of purpose. It betokens a world deprived of God—or a world in which God(ot) has forever abandoned mankind to “waste and pine” (42). This negative ontology took shape as an intellectual response to the Western crisis of values in the aftermath of World War II—a war that had made Europe a spiritual wasteland ravaged by the horrors of the battlefield, the menace of nuclear disaster, the incommensurability of the Holocaust, and the near-certainty of the demise of any metaphysical dimension within human experience. Why, then, would such a perception of reality as aimless and absurd appeal to anyone in China in the heyday of post-Maoism, when the country had just emerged from the Dark Ages of the Cultural Revolution and totalitarian obscurantism had just subsided, heralding in the bright vision of reform? Why would the European tradition of the absurd set roots in the Chinese theatre at this historical juncture that was brimming with possibilities and confidence in a new national project of economic modernization and social reconstruction? Why, again, would this “alien” and alienated dramaturgical mode generate its most prolific offspring in the early...

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