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Rehistoricizing Kunqu: Day 2

Saturday, January 9, 2016
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Charles E. Young Research Library
Main Conference Room

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9:15-9:30 Coffee
9:30-10:30 CHEN Fang, Theater, National Taiwan Normal University
10:40-11:40 Hsiao-Chun Wu, History, UCLA
11:45-1:00 Lunch
1:00-2:00 Fang-ru Lin, Asian Languages & Cultures, UCLA
2:10-3:10 Ellen Gerdes, World Arts & Cultures/Dance, UCLA
3:20-4:20 Discussion, Wrap-up
Film screening to follow: My Next Step

Abstracts (listed in order of presentation)

From Kun Opera to Beijing Opera: Misreading “Daiyu Buried the Fallen Flowers”

CHEN Fang, Theater, National Taiwan Normal University

The dramas of the Dream of the Red Chamber with the main plot of the love of Baoyu, Daiyu and Baochai in Qing Dynasty, “Daiyu Buried the Fallen Flowers” is widely remarked. The writing-arrangement of “Daiyu Buried the Fallen Flowers” frames an intertextual relation among the adaptions and the novel. Moreover, there are intriguing internalized understandings from the perspectives of lyrics. According to Harold Bloom, who proposes intertextuality theory, the successors have “the anxiety of influence” from the precursors. Reading, thus, is miswriting; writing is misreading—they are all “misprision”. In this sense, how did Mei in North and Ouyang in South misread The Dream of the Red Chamber when they launched a new “Daiyu Buried the Fallen Flowers” in the Beijing Opera version? How did they “misread” The Dream of the Red Chamber and other texts? Which lyrical level does the drama achieve? This paper aims to investigate its misreading and its interpretation from the perspectives of intertextuality and lyrics.

清代「紅樓戲」若以寶、黛戀情為主線者,幾乎都會譜寫「黛玉葬花」。這些「葬花」戲彼此及其與小說之間,固然形成了各種不同的互文關係。而在抒情層次上,也有各自內化的體會。根據互文性理論家布魯姆(Harold Bloom)的說法,在創作上,後繼者對於先驅者具有「影響的焦慮」(the anxiety of influence),以致閱讀就是誤寫,寫作也是誤讀,一切都是「誤解」(misprision)。如此,則「北梅南歐」在1915年左右,各自推出新編京劇《黛玉葬花》,究竟如何「誤讀」《紅樓夢》小說及其他戲曲前文本?又達到了什麼樣的抒情高度?本文即擬從互文與抒情視角切入,觀察其所展現的誤讀與新詮。

Writing the History of Chinese Drama with Confucian Classics

Hsiao-Chun Wu, History, UCLA

This paper investigates the appropriation of Confucian classics in Qi Rushan’s (1875-1962) construction of the gewu (singing and dancing) notion, an aesthetic concept central to the understanding of Chinese opera and of historical narratives of Chinese drama. Qi Rushan was the first to envision a comprehensive project to systematically produce scholarship on Chinese opera (taking contemporary pihuang as its epitome). It situates his efforts to trace the origin of Chinese drama to antiquity in relationship to two kinds of history that emerged in Qi’s time. The first is an “internal history” of Chinese drama, best illustrated by Wang Guowei (1877-1827), whose Song Yuan xiqu shi (A History of Song and Yuan Drama) places the golden age of Chinese drama in the Song (960-1279). The second is an “external history,” including debates on the rise and fall of Chinese civilization that arose in the transnational context of the emerging Sinology in the late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

This paper analyzes Qi Rushan’s responses to these historiographies in his writing on the history of Chinese drama. His willful dismissal of late imperial theatrical discourses indicated that, for him, the historical significance of gewu lay in the achievements of the Han people from antiquity to the early imperial period rather than being a historical development that intersected with Han and non-Han regimes during the late imperial period. Despite Qi Rushan’s references to the classics in constructing gewu as unique to Chinese civilization, contemporary discussion of the relationship between drama, singing, and dance, often unfolded in a comparative manner. His efforts to conjoin ancient and contemporary performance theory via the Chinese classics was premised upon a concept of unchanging/intrinsic practices. This paper, then, reads the growing scholarly interest in Chinese opera among Republican-era intellectuals and explores the ways in which classical texts could be mobilized to attribute timeless features to a lively, ever-changing art.

本論文以劇學家齊如山(1870-1962) 的戲曲史寫作為主要材料,分析齊如何援引儒家經典,撰寫以「歌舞」表演為核心的中國戲曲史(以皮簧為代表劇種)。本研究將齊如山的寫作置於戲曲研究的「內史」與「外史」兩重脈絡下加以審視。「內史」指的是戲曲史本身的發展,以王國維(1877-1927)為例,其《宋元戲曲史》認為中國戲曲發展的高峰發生於宋代。「外史」指的則是自十九世紀末期興起的漢學研究中,對於中國文明興衰的討論與辯論。本論文指出,齊如山呼應上述史學發展脈絡,將「歌舞」視為漢民族自上古時期至漢唐之際所達成的歷史成就,而非漢人與其他民族互動之結果,因而刻意忽略了清代的戲曲論述。 而齊如山得以將經典文本與當代表演互相應證,乃建立在將「歌舞」表演視為中國本土且歷時不變的基礎上。本文關心之所在,即在於一代戲曲史家,如何得力於儒家傳統,從不斷演變的表演藝術中,發掘超越時間的永恆特質。
Between Asian and Oriental: Wu Hsing-Kuo and Xiqu in Taiwan
Fang-ru Lin, Asian Languages & Cultures, UCLA
As an intercultural performance adapted from a classic western novel and played by a Jingju performer, Metamorphosis (2013), which is staged by Wu Hsing-Kuo and his Contemporary Legend Theatre, is unusual for its variety of styles, including Jingju, Kunqu, and modern dance, etc. The diversity of styles in this play not only shows Wu’s versatility in roles and dramatic genres, challenges the frame for audience to interpret the play, but may also reflect the dilemma of a traditional Chinese xiqu performer in Taiwan. For practitioners of traditional performance arts in Taiwan, the difficulties of reforming tradition come from not only the conflict with modernity but also the competition with another a more “authentic” East—the resurgence of mainland China. While China retrieves its claim to the classics, for Taiwanese artists who work in Chinese xiqu, their pursuit and works of Chinese cultural traditions becomes complicated. In this paper, I intend to explore how Metamorphosis shows a self-reflexive view of its own interculturality and demonstrates an attempt for a traditional xiqu performer in Taiwan nowadays to negotiate among the Orientalist gaze, anti-orientalist discourse, and the ambiguous status quo of Taiwan.
Re-interpreting Tradition: Avant-garde kunqu in Hong Kong
 Ellen Gerdes, World Arts & Cultures/Dance, UCLA
In 2001, UNESCO named kunqu one of the Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible Heritage. The notion of intangible heritage aims to empower performance as knowledge; however, it also has the effect of treating art deemed traditional as endangered and traditional artists as helpless. This preservationist approach has sparked significant debate. Scholars Bell Yung and Richard Kurin note that the term “safeguard” positively associates Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) with human rights; whereas, scholars Diana Taylor and Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett find the terminology undermines the agency of practitioners of traditional cultural forms and perpetuates colonialist paternalism.
This paper investigates how The Trial (2013)—curated by avant-garde Hong Kong theater director Danny Yung and developed with traditional kunqu performers from the Nanjing Jiangsu Kunqu Troupe—offers an alternative to the UNESCO project. Yung promotes a cyclical process of tradition and contemporaneity by encouraging the performers to continue in their troupe; he has also sustained long-term working relationships with his performers, unlike intercultural theater exploitations of Chinese opera termed “Hegemonic Intercultural Theater” by scholar Daphne Lei. Kafka’s The Trial serves not as the plot for this avant garde kunqu, but rather as the impetus for thematic creation (often formatted as a list of questions Yung asks the performers to consider). During his creative process, he leads the performers through a series of structured improvisations and discussions; yet, the performers design much of the voice and gesture, sometimes improvised, sometimes excerpted from kunqu repertoire.
In this paper, I draw from interviews that explore the performers’ perception of the collaborative process with Danny Yung and the ICH project. These collaborations between experimental theater director and kunqu performing artists seem to suggest that kunqu is not a static tradition in need of saving. The work implies that kunqu might be a successful means for thinking through contemporary issues. In the context of Hong Kong, a city that has often been defined by its lack—supposed lack of culture, lack of political gumption, and lack of autonomy—Danny Yung utilizes the genre of kunqu to implore his audience to consider possibilities between the past, the future, the arts, and the state. Kunqu serves as a representation of “Chineseness” at the same time that it performs a political critique in order to question the current presence of Hong Kong.
2001年,聯合國教科文組織正式將崑曲列入人類口述及非物質文化遺產。非物質文化遺產的認可雖提升了表演藝術的地位,卻也將傳統藝術及表演者們劃上瀕危和亟需保護的等號。這種保護主義的看法已引起了許多討論,如學者Bell Yung和Richard Kurin認為「守衛」一詞將非物質文化遺產正向地連結到人權保衛;但Diana Taylor和Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett則指出這種用語不僅低估傳統文化表演者的能動性,並仍延續了殖民主義式的父權體制。
本文將探討香港前衛劇場導演榮念曾於2013年發表的《坐井》,並指出這齣與江蘇崑曲團演員合作的作品如何展現出不同於聯合科教科文組織的另一種可能。榮念曾鼓勵演員繼續留在原本的劇團,藉此和傳統保持循環和共時性。他也和表演者們維持了長期的工作關係,避免落入Daphne Lei(雷碧瑋)所指的「霸權跨文化劇場」。卡夫卡的小說《審判》不只為此齣實驗崑曲提供基本情節,更成為主題創作的靈感來源(榮念曾常以小說相關的問題要求演員們思考)。在創作過程中,他引導演員們進行一系列的即興和討論,同時演員們負責設計聲音與動作,其中有些由演員自行發展。

Sponsor(s): Center for Chinese Studies, Asia Pacific Center, Department of History, UCLA Dean of Humanities, UCLA Dean of Social Sciences, Taipei Economic and Cultural Organization in Los Angeles