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Chinese Shakespeares : an intercultural study of adaptations across performance genres

Tang, Renfang


Renfang Tang


Christian M.,1968 Billing

Pavel, 1974 Dra´bek


My dissertation uses the proliferation of contemporary adaptations and performances of Shakespeare in Mainland China from the 1980s to the present as an example to demonstrate the complicated language, historical, cultural, and socio- political interactions between the Chinese and the Anglophone world during the last three decades. It is an inquiry of the (re)presentation, (re)construction, and perception of Shakespeare in contemporary China, in a period of dramatic local, social and economic changes, vis-à-vis the increasingly powerful impact of the global consumption of literary, cultural artefacts. Focusing on the interactions that take place among Shakespearean text and performance and Chinese culture, the dissertation addresses the following issues: Why should Shakespeare be associated with China? To what extent can Chinese interpretations of Shakespeare tell us about social changes in China? How has Shakespeare affected Chinese theatre and Chinese culture? How can Chinese Shakespeares contribute to the general interpretive possibilities of Shakespeare and to the global awareness of foreign Shakespeares?

Theorizations of theatrical interculturalism began in the 1970s, but until now, there has not emerged a unanimously agreed theory to explain intercultural theatre. My dissertation deploys cross-disciplinary approaches of translation studies, performance theories, cultural studies, comparative literature and the sociological theory of locality criticism to examine the mechanisms of adapting Shakespeare into Chinese theatrical forms and offers a thick account of the producing, promoting and perceiving of Shakespeare in today’s China. My analysis focuses on shifting localities that cluster around the artists, their works, and their audiences. The first chapter reviews the complexity of encounter between Shakespeare and China, laying the ground for my premise that Chinese performances of Shakespeare are invariably informed by ideological, political or cultural norms and constraints of Chinese society. Three genres of performances—huaju (spoken drama), xiqu (Chinese opera) and dianying (films)—are singled out in this study to discover key cultural and aesthetic moments of their encounter, influence and reception. Nine stage and screen productions are examined as products of the interculturalism of Chinese Shakespeares. My contention is that these intercultural productions have consciously interweaved Shakespeare and Chinese theatrical forms to resonate with the issues of Chinese society and construct the image of China in the globalised world.


Tang, R. (2016). Chinese Shakespeares : an intercultural study of adaptations across performance genres. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date May 13, 2020
Publicly Available Date Feb 23, 2023
Keywords Drama
Public URL
Additional Information School of Drama, Music and Screen, The University of Hull
Award Date Apr 1, 2016


Thesis (5.7 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2016 Tang, Renfang. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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