Chapter

The Experimental Stage, 1895–1920

Joshua Goldstein

in Drama Kings

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2007 | ISBN: 9780520247529
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520932791 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520247529.003.0004
The Experimental Stage, 1895–1920

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This chapter places the changes in the Peking opera theater in a broader historical context of late Qing and early Republican efforts to reform the Qing polity into a Republican nation-state. From the 1890s to the 1910s, a vibrant concatenation of reformist experiments converged in the Peking opera theater, both in the onstage productions of plays and in the audience, particularly with the integration of women into what had previously been the all-male space of the public theater. Theaters were at once spaces of social liberation and gender experimentation and sites over which various social fractions—male actors and the newly emerging female actresses, male and female fans, foreign-educated students, and wealthy patrons—competed for control, while drama as a medium of cultural communication came to be seen as crucial to shaping citizens' political attitudes and social behavior.

Keywords: Peking opera theater; Qing polity; Republican nation-state; social liberation; cultural communication; drama

Chapter.  17903 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Asian History

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