About 关于本站

Chinese theatre is an exciting subject with dynamic complexities. Different theatre styles (see the diagram below) including Western-inspired spoken drama, the indigenous or traditional song-dance forms (including nearly 300 codified local genres) and other theatrical forms present daunting problems. Differences in language and culture raise barriers not found in dance and music.

Compared to the increasingly successful discipline of Chinese cinema that emerged in the 1980s, primary sources in Chinese theatre are largely inaccessible for researchers, theatre practitioners and the general public. This pilot of the Digital Library of Chinese Theatre offered by 'Staging China' attempts to see if electronic stage productions with bilingual annotation/ critical essays would be useful for non-Chinese native speakers or Chinese speakers with limited knowledge of theatre to further a preliminary interest in the subject. The pilot mainly offers samples of the Western-inspired form of modern spoken drama and the indigenous/traditional song-dance theatre.

There are 4 main works in the pilot:

  • The Story of Gong and Drum Lane (spoken drama, bilingual-subtitled).
  • A scene from The Orphan of Zhao (yueju or shaoxingxi, one local genre in xiqu, the large family of the traditional song-dance theatre, bilingual-subtitled)
    • The Sun is Not for Us (2011 & 2012). This is a newly created work in English based on the stories of female characters in 4 canonical plays written by Chinese dramatist Cao Yu to commemorate the playwright’s centenary. It was performed in Leeds, at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and toured China.
    • A Midsummer Night’s DREAMING Under the Southern Bough (2016). This production in English was co-produced by University of Leeds (UK) and University of International Business and Economics (China) to celebrate the 400 years of cultural legacy of two great playwrights: William Shakespeare and Tang Xianzu. The Chinese side adapted Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, while the British group worked on a contemporary response to Tang’s Nanke Ji. The young people’s sensitivity and emotional expression were reflected in their interpretation of classics from each other’s culture. It was performed in Leeds, at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and toured China.
  • Each production contains its own available documents, such as programmes, critical reviews, images and so on.

    Surrounding these 4 major productions, there are introductions to 1) huaju, the Western-inspired modern spoken drama and 2) xiqu, the indigenous/traditional song-dance theatre. In order to give viewers an idea of the large spectrum of different styles of xiqu (the Chinese song-dance theatre), a variety have been logged. Some are highly stylised while others are closer to everyday life, yet they still use songs as their means of expression. The pilot thus offers over thirty short clips of different regional genres: some of which are taken from the genres’ traditional repertoire while others are from newly written plays. Even within the newly written plays, some are based on historical stories whilst others present contemporary lives on the stage. These short clips are provided with brief introductions to the genre[1] and the scenario of the play from which the clips are made.

    For one of the core works The Orphan of Zhao, this pilot also offers short clips or still images of 11 different versions of the same play, among which some are in the huaju form, some are in the xiqu style, and one is a Chinese Western operatic adaptation. There are three non-Chinese productions from Nigeria (Drama Section, Ahmadu Bello University, 1979), Korea (Michoo Theatre Company, 2006) and Britain (Royal Shakespeare Company, 2012).

    For those who want to read more research work on the Chinese theatre can see two attached documents. One contains books, articles, reviews, theatre productions and exhibitions during the last twenty years by colleagues who have closely worked with Staging China project since 2012. The other is a reference list compiled by Steven Siyuan Liu on the traditional song-dance theatre.

    [1] The introduction to the genres are mostly based on Dictionary of Traditional Chinese Theatre and Folk Vocal Art Forms (Zhongguo xiqu quyi cidian), edited by Shanghai Arts Research Institute and the Shanghai Branch of the Association of Dramatists, Shanghai: Cishu Chubanshe, 1981. 

    Research output

    Bibliography on the traditional song-dance theatre





•越剧《赵氏孤儿》第4场 ,双语字幕。