Introduction of Western-style drama into China in the early twentieth century produced a new dramatic genre, huaju (spoken drama), which is distinguished from traditional xiqu (musical theatre) by its use of spoken dialog and a more realistic portrayal of contemporary life. Many reform-minded Chinese intellectuals saw in this new drama a fitting vehicle to promote social reforms. Some of them even advocated replacing the old theatre with this more socially conscious form of theatre. While spoken drama became the favorite of the intellectual elites, traditional theatre, with its deep cultural roots and many regional forms, remained the popular form of entertainment for the masses. This article investigates the interactions between these two theatrical forms by analyzing two modern adaptations of the play Hezhu pei (Hezhu's Match), one produced in mainland China, one in Taiwan. It will examine how the adapters utilized traditional sources to produce plays more relevant to contemporary society, and what performance techniques they employed to replace the old convention of song and dance. In addition to the old versus the new, the Chinese and Taiwanese adaptations will be compared to illuminate how social and political conditions influenced literary and artistic creations. My study will also discuss how the Taiwanese production marked the beginning of the Little Theatre Movement, which ushered in a new era in modern drama in Taiwan.


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pp. 416-438
Launched on MUSE
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