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ESTRANGING CONTEMPORARY CHINA: ADAPTATIONS OF BRECHT’S PLAYS IN CHINESE THEATRE SINCE THE CULTURAL REVOLUTION

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Title:ESTRANGING CONTEMPORARY CHINA: ADAPTATIONS OF BRECHT’S PLAYS IN CHINESE THEATRE SINCE THE CULTURAL REVOLUTION
Authors:Zhang, Wei
Contributors:Wessendorf, Markus (advisor)
Theatre (department)
Keywords:Theater
Bertolt Brecht
Brechtian influence
Chinese huaju
Chinese xiqu
show 2 moreestrangement effect
transcultural adaptation
show less
Date Issued:Dec 2018
Publisher:University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Abstract:Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) presents a unique case for transcultural adaptation studies because his dramatic theory and works show a strong Chinese influence and have reciprocally exerted a strong influence on the aesthetics and theatre productions in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). This dissertation studies how Brecht’s plays have been adapted to speak to the sociopolitical, economic, and cultural developments in China since the late 1970s and how such adaptations reflect and result from dynamic interactions between Chinese philosophy, ethics, and aesthetics, especially as embodied in traditional xiqu and the Brechtian concepts of estrangement effect (Verfremdungseffekt) and political theatre.
The dissertation begins with an introductory chapter that lays out the rationale, background, research methodology and limitations, etc. for this study. It is followed by a chapter that examines dynamic transcultural and intertextual resonances between Brecht’s Turandot or the Whitewashers’ Congress (1953) and Wei Minglun’s chuanju (Sichuan Opera) The Chinese Princess Dulanduo (1998 and 2012). Chapter 3 provides an analysis of Chinese adaptations of Brecht’s Life of Galileo (1979), The Caucasian Chalk Circle (1985), and The Threepenny Opera (1998) – all directed (or co-directed) by Chen Yong, a female theatre director – which also present interesting cases for transcultural adaptation studies. They reflect a unique directorial perspective, which pays particular attention to the portrayal of female characters and is influenced as much by Chen’s revolutionary idealism as by the traditional Chinese “idealization” of the virtues of womanhood.
The dissertation then studies Chinese xiqu productions Good Woman/Bad Woman (2002) and The Good Person of Jiangnan (2013), which resonate with Brecht’s The Good Person of Szechwan (1943), especially with regard to sociopolitical criticism. Chapter 5 examines the 1992 and 2011 chuanju adaptations of Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle (1944), itself an adaptation of the 14th-century Chinese play Huilan ji (The Chalk Circle). These two were notable experiments of fusing traditional chuanju with innovative new techniques to address socioeconomic and cultural realities of present-day China in the spirit of Brecht’s political theatre.
The dissertation concludes with an assessment of the Brechtian influence on modern Chinese drama and theatre for the last four decades and a look ahead at what needs to be further researched to continue the study of Brecht transcultural adaptation study.
Description:Ph.D. Thesis. University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa 2018.
Pages/Duration:247 pages
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/10125/62049
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.
Appears in Collections: Ph.D. - Theatre


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