Article published in:Cultural China in Discursive Transformation
Edited by Shi-xu
[Journal of Asian Pacific Communication 21:2] 2011
► pp. 319–329
In the name of Shakespeare
Cross-cultural adaptation in Taiwan’s Beijing Opera
, also known as classical Chinese opera or sung drama, had been the major entertainment in the traditional Chinese society. In Taiwan, Beijing opera as ‘National Drama’ had long enjoyed resources far more than other xiqu genres. However, with the rapid transformation of socioeconomic structure, xiqu experienced drastic decline in audience in the face of Western culture. The call for a “modernized” xiqu became imperative. Under such circumstances, the Contemporary Legend Theater company (CLT) came to the fore. It was founded by a Beijing opera practitioner Wu and his wife Lin, a modern dancer. The debut Kingdom of Desire in 1986, adapted from Macbeth, stirred great excitement in Taipei, and later the play toured around the world. While displaying the legacy of xiqu performance, the couple aimed to go beyond the boundary of Beijing opera and search for a new genre that can reach a wider audience. Their subsequent productions are also adaptations of Western canonical plays, such as Medea, the Oresteia and King Lear. While the marketing strategy of the CLT often stresses jingles such as “When the East meets the West,” intercultural performance as such reveals a double consciousness of the performers, who see themselves through the eyes of the (Western) others. The paper attempts to discuss the meaning of Shakespeare in the CLT’s intercultural adaptations and further examine the politics hidden behind this phenomenon of intercultural adaptation in Taiwan. I explore if such seemingly self-orientalizing adaptation contains resistance to globalization.
Published online: 05 July 2011