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Anthem Press
Online publication date:
January 2023
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Book description

Kunqu, recognised by UNESCO in 2001 as part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, is among the oldest and most refined traditions of the family of genres known as xiqu (music-drama or 'Chinese opera'). Today, the art form's musical and performance traditions are being passed on by senior artists in several major cities of the Yang-tze River basin as well as Beijing. This book consists of twelve explanatory narrations, selected and translated from among an expansive collective endeavour in Chinese.

Each performer narration sheds light on the human processes that create and transmit pieces of theatre, allowing actors' voices to be heard for the first time in English. Meanwhile, annotations place these narratives in historical, literary, discursive and aesthetic contexts.

Close critical attention shows how concepts such as 'tradition' are in fact the sites of constant elaboration and negotiation, and reveal kunqu as a living and changing art form. Methodologically, this work breaks new ground by centering the performers' perspective rather than text, providing a complement and a challenge to performance-analysis, ideological, sociological, or plot-based perspectives on xiqu.

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