Based on archival scripts, discussion records, and interviews of surviving artists, this article examines the impact of China's state diplomatic demand and shifting political and ideological circumstances on the creation and revisions of a jingju (Beijing opera) play titled Princess Baihua in the late 1950s and early 1960s. In 1958, a kunqu scene from the Ming dynasty chuanqi (marvel play) piece The Story of Baihua was selected and significantly revised for a cultural-diplomatic tour to Europe. After the tour, the jingju actress Li Yuru adapted this one-act into a short jingju play. In 1960, as Li and her colleagues at the Shanghai Jingju Theatre were preparing to expand Li's version into a full-length play, foreign minister Chen Yi suggested a fundamental change to the premise of the play in order to utilize it for China's Cold War diplomacy. Chen's directive, however, introduced major creative challenges for the team of actors, playwrights, directors, and cultural officials in charge of the revision process that went through four versions between 1960 and 1961, which was further complicated by the volatile ideological pendulum of the era.


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pp. 1-29
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