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A two-week module for Chinese Classical theatre. ASDP Infusing Institute 2013 Edward Kahn Department of Theatre & Dance Ohio Wesleyan University. Aims. Theatre Studies aims To move beyond performance /literature specifics (“ what it is”)

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a two week module for chinese classical theatre

A two-week module for Chinese Classical theatre

ASDP Infusing Institute 2013

Edward Kahn

Department of Theatre & Dance

Ohio Wesleyan University

slide2
Aims
  • Theatre Studies aims
    • To move beyond performance /literature specifics

(“what it is”)

    • To explore how performance arises from and contributes to culture (questioning “why it is”)
course background
Course Background
  • Course title: Asian Drama and Theatre
  • Class designed to focus primarily (but not entirely) on classical forms
  • Upper-level elective
  • Students enrolled are majoring in many disciplines
would be happy to
Would be happy to…
  • Capture the major movements of Chinese theatre
    • Yuan theatre (“golden age” in number, not necessarily in quality)
    • Ming theatre
    • Qing theatre (jingju – “Beijing Opera”)
    • Modern theatre influences
  • While keeping the class engaged in how the theatre responds to and/or promotes ideas, agendas, influences, aesthetics, etc.
mulan
Mulan

With the Mulan the class can compare/contrast texts from three of the four historical areas – utilizing a familiar story

The Female Mulan Joins the Army in Place of Her Father, by Xu Wei, translated by ShiaminKwa

16th century (Ming)

zaju, joined song style (writer centered composition)

Mu Lan Joins the Army, anonymous, translated by Wilt L. Idema

1903 (end of the Qing)

jingju, beat [and] tune style (performer centered composition)

The Saga of Mulan(subtitled)

1994 film

longjiang opera - combined with modern “Hollywood” elements

two major contexts
Two major contexts
  • 1) Who are the “rulers” / authorities

Start with the oldest extant Mulan poem (12th century) which points back to the northeaster conflicts of the Northern Wei period (4th to 6th centuries), a non-Han dynasty

Ming (Han)

Qing (Manchu)

Modern (PRC)

  • 2) Confucianism

Filial piety (xiao)

Loyalty to the rulers (zhong)

Women?

rulers authority discussion points the text speaks with whose voices
“Rulers” /authority discussion points – the text speaks with whose voices?
  • Mulan fights for and against whom?

(e.g. She fights for the “khan” in the 12th century poem, and against the “khan” in the 1903 version.)

  • Class influences connected to ruling class
    • Ming – “elite” writer -> joined song style (writer centered composition)
    • Qing – “popular” jingju-> beat tune style (performer centered composition)
  • In performance
    • Interpretations of cross-dressing (see Siu Leung Li, Cross-Dressing in Chinese Opera)
confucianism
Confucianism
  • One can find many assertions that the “original text” is “rooted in Confucian patriarchy” and contains the “hierarchal social order of the Confucian maxim.”
  • Discussion can question:
    • “How true is this for the adaptations?
    • What are similarities and differences?”
confucianism discussion points
Confucianism discussion points

What is Mulan’s relation to her father – e.g. her rationale to serve?

What is Mulan’s relation to her military superiors?

What preparations does Mulan undertake?

(e.gwhat does it mean that she unbinds her feet - and claims to have a method to reshrink them once she’s done fighting in the Ming version.)

How does she deal with her hardships?

What does she do at the end of the story?

(e.g. in the Ming version she returns to an arranged marriage – to a man who has just passed the civil service exam. In the Modern version she falls in love with a sergeant, who dies in the final battle.)

confucianism readings
Confucianism Readings
  • Secondary sources

e.g. Section I of Lan, Feng. "The female individual and the empire: A historicist approach to Mulan and Kingston's woman warrior." Comparative Literature 55, no. 3 (2003): 229-245.

  • Excerpts from the Analects

e.g. 1.7 Zixia said: “As for persons who care for character much more than beauty, who in serving their parents are able to exert themselves utterly, who give their whole person in the service of their ruler, and who, in interactions with colleagues and friends make good on their word – even if it were said of such person that they are unschooled, I would insist that they are well educated indeed.” trans. Ames and Rosemont

on women
On Women?
  • Little in the Analects. 17.25 The Master said, “It is only women and petty persons who are difficult to proved for. Drawing them close, they are immodest, and keeping them at a distance, they complain.” trans. Ames and Rosemont
  • Can use later writers: e.g. Liu Xiang, “The Mother of Mencius” … His mother answered, “A woman’s duties are to cook the five grains, heat the wine, look after her parents-in-law, make clothes, and that is all!”
  • Lots of secondary sources available for the class
two week module
Two week module
  • Day One:
    • Readings: 12th century poem, time-line of dynasties & basic historical information
    • Lecture: Yuan drama
    • Discussion: Mulan story, question points
  • Day Two:
    • Readings: Ming text & background info, Confucian basics
    • Lecture: Ming drama
    • Discussion: filial piety, loyalty to rulers
  • Day Three:
    • Readings: Qing text & background info, Analects selections
    • Lecture : Qing drama & jingju
    • Discussion: compare and contrast Ming and Qing using question points
  • Day Four:
    • Readings: Performance and Music in Chinese Opera
    • Lecture/Discussion: Performance and Music, virtuosity, class considerations
  • Day Five:
    • Readings: Women and Confucianism, Cross-Dressing
    • Viewing: Saga of Mulan(excerpts)
  • Day Six:
    • Readings: Modern influences
    • Final discussion of four Mulan versions, using information of the past two weeks