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Dramatizing Chinese Intellectuals of the Republican Era in Face for Mr. Chiang Kai-shek: Encoding Nostalgia in a Comedy of Ideas

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 July 2021

Abstract

Face for Mr. Chiang Kai-shek, one of the most influential Chinese plays to have garnered attention in recent years, serves as a reminder of the importance of campus theatre in the formation and development of modern Chinese spoken drama from the early twentieth century onwards. As an old-fashioned high comedy that features witty dialogues and conveys philosophical and political ideas, it stands in opposition to such other forms of theatre in China today as the extravagant, propagandistic ‘main melody’ plays, as well as the experimental theatre of images. This article argues that the play’s focus on Chinese intellectuals of the Republican era and their ideas encodes nostalgia both in its dramatic content and theatrical form: the former encodes nostalgia for the Republican era through a nuanced representation of Chinese intellectuals of that period, while the latter encodes nostalgia for orthodox spoken drama (huaju) in the form of a comedy of ideas. Yuan Li (first author) is Professor of English in the Faculty of English Language and Culture, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies. She has published extensively on contemporary Chinese and Anglo-Irish drama, theatre, and cinema. Tim Beaumont (corresponding author) is Assistant Professor at the School of Foreign Languages at Shenzhen University. His research is primarily philosophical, and it is currently focused on the relationship between nineteenth-century liberal nationalism and contemporary multiculturalism.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© Cambridge University Press 2021

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Dramatizing Chinese Intellectuals of the Republican Era in Face for Mr. Chiang Kai-shek: Encoding Nostalgia in a Comedy of Ideas
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