While Gao Xingjian’s discussions of acting and theatre have been analyzed in terms of postmodernism, Western modernism, the idea of exile, and traditional Chinese acting techniques, little has been said about Gao’s place within the distinct theoretical, artistic, and material context of the rapidly modernizing pre-Maoist, post-Qing China in which he began his work. Chinese ideas of a distinctly Chinese modernity; the specific way in which China utilized Stanislavski; debates over the status of huaju (spoken drama) and various Chinese forms of theatre; and emergent ideas about the relationship of the state, religion, and the individual provide a seething cauldron of debate. In addition to engaging with Western notions of subjectivity, Gao’s early work specifically maneuvers through the terrain of Chinese debates of the period in order to generate a curiously contingent modern Chinese subjectivity, and, in so doing, provides insights into the nature of Chinese modernity.


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pp. 153-178
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