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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Revolution in the theatre in the People's Republic of China Judd, Ellen Ruth


This thesis examines the political transformation of the theatre in the People's Republic of China. Some background to this transformation is provided in a brief survey of the development of the traditional Chinese theatre and of changes that occurred during the twentieth century. The developments in the Red areas before 1949 are given particular attention. The great increase in theatrical activity in the 1950's is described and attention is given to its political aspects. Political problems in the theatre became important in the early 1960's and these are examined in Chapter 4, with particular attention to the case of Wu Han's Peking opera, Hai Jui Dismissed From Office. The denunciation of the "black line" in the theatre during the Cultural Revolution is discussed in the same chapter. The positive response to these political problems is discussed in the following two chapters. Chapter 5 examines the revolution in Peking opera and gives particular attention to the model revolutionary Peking operas on contemporary themes. Chapter 6 discusses the recent developments in creating new forms of theatre suitable for taking theatrical activities to all the Chinese people and, in particular, in ensuring that they reach the most remote settlements in the country. In the conclusion, the developments in the theatre are briefly put into the context of overall developments in Chinese society. Research was limited to reading translations of plays and of Chinese articles, in addition of what other material is available in English. What is shown in this thesis is that the Chinese theatre has undergone a fundamental political transformation— a revolution. In content and in form, a new type of theatre is emerging in China that is designed to serve the people of China and especially the workers, peasants, and soldiers. Problems remain in the theatre, especially in the artistic area, but experimentation and development are continuing on the new political basis established in the Cultural Revolution.

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