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Title: Contesting traditional 'luzi' ('choreographic paths') : a performance-based study of Kunqu
Author: Hunter Gordon, Kim
ISNI:       0000 0004 8499 3045
Awarding Body: Royal Holloway, University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 2016
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Kunqu has been conceptualised as a comprehensive performance art of 'fixed' appearance and unassailable pedigree. This thesis demonstrates that it is literary, political and professional elites' continual attempts to archive and categorise Kunqu performance that leads to this notion of 'fixity'. This argument is complemented by a careful analysis of the luzi ('choreographic paths') of contemporary performance. By analysis of two major monologues from Peony Pavilion, this thesis shows that actors continually carve out and maintain competing artistic identities by choosing to adopt, adapt or replace 'traditional' luzi. This new understanding of the relationship between performance and the archive of performance allows me to intervene in major debates from the works of Aoki Masaru to Lu Eting - not only regarding Kunqu historiography, but also in respect to the literature on Chinese theatre in general, where this apparent fixity is cited by Kunqu's advocates as an orthodoxy that lends it cultural pre-eminence over other performance genres. At the centre of my study, then, are the insights garnered from the practical experience of learning luzi over three years at the Jiangsu Province Kunju Theatre in Nanjing. This experience has enabled me to interpret many hundreds of hours of previously unanalysed video footage, much of which represents material that has only become available in recent years. From this analysis I establish the centrality of the luzi as the key locus where the actor seeks to validate his or her mediation of the tradition. Drawing upon Derrida's conception of archivism as an active force in the creation of meaning and Diana Taylor's critique of UNESCO strategies that commit intangible repertoire into an archive, I demonstrate how multiple archiving projects have been continually implicated in the formation of Kunqu since its inception. Informed by Baumann's ideas of mediation and performance, I further argue that audiences' and practitioners' increasing awareness of canonical 'luzi' through the video archive actively shapes, rather than simply records, Kunqu performance.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Kunqu ; kunju ; xiqu ; Chinese opera ; tradition ; China ; intangible heritage ; ontology ; alternative epistemologies ; indigeneity ; cradle status ; cacophonous relations ; Bolivia