Xiqu and modernisation: the transformations of the Chinese traditional theatre in the process of social formation of modern China.

Yeung, Jessica Wai-yee (2002) Xiqu and modernisation: the transformations of the Chinese traditional theatre in the process of social formation of modern China. PhD thesis, Middlesex University.

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Abstract

There is an inherent sociality and collectivity in the theatre. Theatrical activities, like other cultural productions, involve a great many elements seeping through, in and out and between the theatrical institutions and other vectors of the social space. Theatre is both a result of and simultaneously one of the many constitutive factors in the process of social formation. This thesis examines the conventions of xiqu and its transformations in relation to the modernisation in China since the second half of the 19th Century. The introduction of Western theatre architecture in the last decade of the 19th Century in Chinese cities was probably the most important catalyst for the metamorphosis of xiqu into its present form. The changed parameters of the newly constructed theatres injected new possibilities into productions and changed the theatrical consciousness of the audience. The jingju form provides a particular case in point. It was initially developed into a distinctive regional xiqu as a consequence of the merging of a number of existing regional forms, the performances of which in the capital were only made possible by modern communications and transportation. Its subsequent popularity in the principal cities was inseparable from its development in the modern theatres. The cinema was introduced to China at about the same time as Western theatre architecture. Xiqu films were first produced as records of performances to extend the commercial possibilities of the xiqu market. As film language improved in its refinement and aesthetic grammar, cinematic aesthetics took over and xiqu films started to take another direction. As more features of its stage aesthetics were replaced by camera treatment, xiqu films ceased to be a genre of xiqu and became instead a genre of cinema. This clear-cut distinction was especially obvious in the xiqu films produced in Hong Kong, where market forces were relentlessly fierce. Nowadays xiqu is facing the same challenges as all other theatre forms in the globalised market-place. To survive it must find a way to remain competitive and commercially viable. At the same time, it must rediscover its artistic edge by offering experimental and innovative productions in order to make itself artistically relevant and attractive to its contemporary audience.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Research Areas:Theses
Media & Performing Arts > Theatre
ID Code:6352
Deposited On:04 Aug 2010 12:23
Last Modified:09 Feb 2013 16:26

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