Two models in late nineteenth-century Paris foreground the ideological and dramaturgical connections between colonial nationalism in the West and theatre’s role in nation building in Meiji Japan and late Qing China. The first involves manifestations of French nationalism after the Franco-Prussian War as witnessed by Japanese and Chinese diplomats in the 1870s, in particular the Paris Opéra and a panorama titled The Siege of Paris. Such firsthand experiences led to an effort to create national theatres out of traditional theatrical forms. The second instance involves two French colonial war plays seen in 1893 by the Japanese new drama star Kawakami Otojirō, who subsequently appropriated them to stage the First Sino-Japanese War, thus providing a blueprint for performing nationalism in the burgeoning Western-style theatres in Japan and China.
Siyuan Liu is a Franklin Fellow and visiting assistant professor at the University of Georgia. He received his PhD in theatre and performance studies from University of Pittsburgh and has published several research articles on modern Chinese and Japanese theatre in Theatre Journal, Asian Theatre Journal, and Text & Presentation.