Poh Sim Plowright recently spent six weeks in Quanzhou, in the Fujian Province of China, watching the puppeteers, actors, and audiences of her native Fujian theatre tradition. Here she was able to observe at first hand the principle of inversion that, she believes, underlies all Chinese theatre: and in the following article she argues that this principle is clearly illustrated by the string puppet and human theatres of Quanzhou, whose origins can be traced to the official ‘Pear Garden Theatre’ set up in the eighth century by the Tang Emperor, Ming Huang. Theatre in this part of South China is, Plowright suggests, living testimony to the continuing basis of Chinese theatre in the practice of ancestor worship, through which most performances become sacrificial offerings – a connection she believes Brecht to have missed in his celebrated confrontation with Chinese acting techniques in Moscow in 1935. Poh Sim Plowright is Lecturer in Oriental Drama and Director of the Noh Centre in the Department of Drama, Theatre, and Media Arts at Royal Holloway, University of London. She is the author of a book on the Noh, and also of several plays and features on theatrical subjects for BBC Radio Three.