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Title: Post-Tian'anmen: a new era in Chinese theatre experimentation during the 1990s at Beijing's China National Experimental Theatre/CNET 
Author: Entell, Bettina S.
Date: 2002
Publisher: University of Hawaii at Manoa
Abstract: The 1990s was a period of rapid transformation in China. Leaders Jiang Zemin and Zhu Rongji accelerated policies initiated by Deng Xiaoping, as China embraced "Socialism with Chinese Characteristics." Far-reaching socioeconomic and cultural change cut across every facet of Chinese society and had a tremendous impact on huaju ("spoken drama") and the State Theatre System. This study examines how and to what extent the conditions and challenges of the 1990s fostered a climate for experimentation and impacted the aesthetics of huaju. The research first establishes a context for huaju--its evolution and ideological background over the last century proceeding to a more detailed view of the 1990s. This decade witnessed significant new phenomena: a rising entrepreneurial class, a vibrant alternate "gray" culture, the proliferation of "little theatres," "free-lance" theatre artists, and the "independent theatre studios" of directors Lin Zhaohua, Meng Jinghui, and Mou Sen. Focusing on Beijing's prestigious China National Experimental Theatre (CNET), the research provides a detailed analysis of the inner workings of the State Theatre System--the transition from "iron rice bowl" to "contract system," new management, producing, and financing practices, and the endeavor to build an audience for huaju amid dwindling State subsidies. The study characterizes the range of styles and genres at CNET during the 1990s: "main melody," "personal realism," "nationalization," "foreign," and "experimental avant-garde" plays. Representative productions, embodying a variety of Western and indigenous Chinese performance styles, aesthetics, and techniques, are examined. The research highlights the experimental work of leading avant-garde directors, Lin Zhaohua and Meng Jinghui, and presents an in-depth analysis of four CNET productions: Lin's Go Man, Meng's The Nun and the Monk and Gossip Street, and Tian Qinxin's Fields of Life and Death. Following the production process--from conception; through rehearsal; to performance; and official, critical, and popular reception--the study explores directorial methods, acting techniques, director/actor/designer interactions, and current theatre practices as they impact dynamics of mise-en-scene. During the 1990s, the parameters of both form and content in huaju grew more complex, as experimental techniques, once the exclusive domain of the avant-garde, were increasingly appropriated by the mainstream.
Description: Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2002. Mode of access: World Wide Web. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 396-479). Electronic reproduction. Also available by subscription via World Wide Web xxi, 479 leaves, bound col. ill. 29 cm
Rights: All UHM dissertations and theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.

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