Amidst the political and cultural sea change of the 1980s in China, a refined awareness of the environment bubbled to the surface. Throughout this decade, artists and scientists alike searched for ways to convey the urgency of China’s ecological crisis. Playwrights who tackled this issue often looked to the past, rediscovering ecological models in Confucian and Daoist ethics as well as ancient myths and rites. This paper examines two such plays, The Sangshuping Chronicles (1988) and Gao Xingjian’s Wild Man (1983), both of which offer fascinating possibilities for the development of a Chinese eco-poetics consonant with Una Chaudhuri’s Western-based concept of eco-theatre.
Heather Phillips is a PhD student in the Department of Drama and Dance at Tufts University. In November 2007, she cohosted the ASTR seminar “Ethics in Translation,” and in May 2008 she cohosted a colloquium at Tufts on the translation of plays. This paper represents her first venture into the study of Chinese theatre.