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Performing the Socialist State


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Table of Contents

Part I: Theater Founding Fathers: Liberal Aesthetics in the Republican Period
1. Tian Han and His Legacy: Proletarian Modernism and "The Theater of Dramatists"
2. Hong Shen and His Discontent: Canonicity Through Theory and Practice
3. Ouyang Yuqian and His Theater Dream: Cross-Dressing, Drama Schools, and Theater Reforms
Part II: Chinese Socialist Theater and Its Afterlife: Shifting "Classics" and Their Place in Cultural Transformation
4. Is Socialism Good? Satirical Comedy and the Gray Theater of the 1950s
5. The Tales of the Wives: The Mao-Era Metamorphosis of the "Red Classics" and Their Postsocialist Reinscriptions
6. "The Song of the Geologists": Remembering Scientists Onstage
7. Monumental Theater: Soldier Plays and History Plays
8. Singing "The Internationale": One Hundred Years of Sonic Theater

About the Author

Xiaomei Chen is Distinguished Professor of Chinese Literature at the University of California, Davis. She is the author of Staging Chinese Revolution: Theater, Film and the Afterlives of Propaganda (Columbia, 2016); Acting the Right Part: Political Theater and Popular Drama in Contemporary China (2002); and Occidentalism: A Theory of Counter-Discourse in Post-Mao China (second and expanded edition, 2002), as well as editor of The Columbia Anthology of Modern Chinese Drama (Columbia, 2010; abridged edition, 2014), among other publications. Chen is also coeditor of Rethinking Chinese Socialist Theaters of Reform: Performance Practice and Debate in the Mao Era (2021), which received the Excellence in Editing Award from the Association for Theatre in Higher Education.


In her newest work, Xiaomei Chen confirms her position as the leading chronicler and analyst of modern and contemporary Chinese theater. Focusing on three dramatists of central importance before, during, and after the socialist era, she provides a nuanced and fascinating overview of the theater's reflection of these turbulent times. -- Marvin Carlson, author of Ten Thousand Nights: Highlights from Fifty Years of Theatre-Going
In her study of theater, politics, and performativity in modern China, Chen tells a compelling story of three leading dramatists in search of socialist modernity-their aspirations, their inventions and interventions, and their own tragedies amid the state's staging of the most brutal theater of revolution. A powerful book. -- David Der-wei Wang, author of Why Fiction Matters in Contemporary China
This is an illuminating narrative of modern Chinese theater culture exemplified by Tian Han, Hong Shen, and Ouyang Yuqian. These legendary dramatists navigated the treacherous political terrains of different eras and built a modern theater from the crosscurrents of East and West. Xiaomei Chen is the best writer for keeping their legacy alive. -- Ban Wang, author of China in the World: Culture, Politics, and World Vision
This magisterial book chronicles the cross-media story of spoken drama from its inception through Republican, Maoist, and Post-Maoist appropriations in the forms of women's theater, socialist theater, and "red classic" films. This capacious history offers, among many gems, a diachronic study of the "sonic theater" of the Internationale over the past hundred years. -- Alexa Alice Joubin, author of Shakespeare and East Asia

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