Gao Xingjian and Transcultural Chinese Theater
- About the Book
A reclusive painter living in exile in Paris, Gao Xingjian found himself instantly famous when he became the first Chinese language writer to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature (2000). The author of the novel Soul Mountain, Gao is best known in his native country not as a visual artist or novelist, but as a playwright and theater director. This important yet rarely studied figure is the focus of Sy Ren Quah’s rich account appraising his contributions to contemporary Chinese and World Theater over the past two decades.
A playwright himself, Quah provides an in-depth analysis of the literary, dramatic, intellectual, and technical aspects of Gao’s plays and theatrical concepts, treating Gao’s theater not only as an art form but, with Gao himself, as a significant cultural phenomenon. The Bus Stop, Wild Man, and other early works are examined in the context of 1980s China. Influenced by Stanislavsky, Brecht, and Beckett, as well as traditional Chinese theater arts and philosophies, Gao refused to conform to the dominant realist conventions of the time and made a conscious effort to renovate Chinese theater. The young playwright sought to create a “Modern Eastern Theater” that was neither a vague generalization nor a nationalistic declaration, but a challenge to orthodox ideologies. After fleeing China, Gao was free to experiment openly with theatrical forms. Quah examines his post-exile plays in a context of performance theory and philosophical concerns, such as the real versus the unreal, and the Self versus the Other. The image conveyed of Gao is not of an activist but of an intellectual committed to maintaining his artistic independence who continues to voice his opinion on political matters.
- About the Author(s)
Sy Ren Quah, Author