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Title: Shakespeare in Taiwan : struggle for cultural independence from Mainland China and Euro-America
Author: Chen, Shu-Fen
Awarding Body: The University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 1999
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The name of Shakespeare was already known in China by 1856, but it was not until 1902' that one of his plays, The Merchant of Venice, was performed by students in Shanghai. Since then Shakespeare's works have been frequently translated, produced and studied in China. Taiwan, being part of China in its cultural heritage, inevitably received Shakespeare in the Chinese manner, whether through translations, productions or critical and academic studies. This dissertation surveys the development of Shakespeare studies and production in Taiwan and makes use of first-hand experience of Shakespeare performance and of conversations with academics and directors in order to assess likely future developments. The purpose of the study is thus to examine how the Taiwanese received, translated, studied and produced Shakespeare in the past, how they are doing so at present and what they may do in the future. Among other things considered here is the possibility of presenting Shakespearean tragedy in an essentially Chinese or Taiwanese mode; that is, through a theatrical form which does not admit of the tragic in the Shakespearean sense of the word. Chapter One discusses the early Taiwanese reception of Shakespeare in the context of the history of modem drama in Taiwan, as a branch of Chinese drama but also as a form that developed under the influence of Japan. The second chapter introduces the background to the Taiwanese staging of Shakespeare's plays, focusing on the three main theatrical performing styles: Peking Opera (PO), Spoken Drama (SD), and Little Theatre (LT). The transition from SD to LT indicated a move from Chinese influence towards that of the United States of America. Chapter Three provides a historical survey of Shakespeare studies in Taiwan since the 1949 split from China. Earlier writing is discussed, followed by reference to the studies of various leading Shakespearean scholars who analyse Shakespeare's plays in terms of psychological analysis, feminism and political theory. Taiwanese theatre criticism is also Chapter Four looks at a Taiwanese Peking Opera staging of Macbeth (The Kingdom of Desire) in the traditional theatrical performing style ('Chinese style'), based on an earlier Japanese production. This provides an opportunity to discuss in more detail the possibility of reconciling two different views of dramatic art, technique and focus. Chapter Five examines a Taiwanese Spoken Drama staging of King Lear, a 'Western style' production although, in reality, an extension of Chinese productions. This introduces a discussion of 'alienation' techniques as a substitute for the dimensions of moral engagement and emotional 'catharsis' found in Shakespearean tragedy. Chapter Six discusses the future of Shakespeare in Taiwan. A mainland Chinese-based experience is recommended to help the Taiwanese accept Shakespeare, while it is argued that a new genuinely Taiwanese Shakespeare experience might possibly be formed by a combination of the Taiwanese Spoken Drama performing style and the Little Theatre experience. Translation and the problems observed by translators are described, with some suggestions for future approaches and strategies. Chapter Seven provides a brief conclusion by suggesting that Taiwan can now claim her own distinctive approach to the work of Shakespeare and, in so doing, make her own contribution to international Shakespeare criticism and to the theatre of the twenty-first century.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available