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A Stage of Their Own: The Problematics of Women's Theater in Post-Mao China

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 March 2010

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Hu shi's play of 1919, The Main Event of One's Life (Zhongshen dashi), introduced spoken drama (huaju) to the modern Chinese stage, in imitation of the plays in the Western Ibsenesque tradition. Ever since then, May Fourth male playwrights such as Guo Moruo, Ouyang Yuqian, Chen Dabei, and others, in forming a tradition countering that of the Confucian ruling ideology, have treated women's liberation and equality issues as important political and ideological strategies (Chen 1995, 137–55). Female playwrights such as Bai Wei also depicted loving mothers and courageous daughters waging a fierce struggle against the patriarchal society, symbolized either by domineering and lustful domestic fathers or by new nationalist fathers already corrupted by the emerging revolution. The tradition on the part of both male and female playwrights of exploring woman as a metaphor for national salvation and a given political agenda was most fully articulated in the street theater that grew up during the period of the War of Resistance to Japan.

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Copyright © The Association for Asian Studies, Inc. 1997

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