Representing China on the Historical London Stage : Identity, Memory, and Intercultural Performance
This book explores a selection of dramatic works and theatrical productions from the historical London stage - the late seventeenth to the early twentieth century -that dramatized China. Examining the themes of racial representation, geo-political dynamics, cultural memory, and national identity, Chang visits the examples as a series of performative sites that bear accrued cultural memories and reflect on the geo-political dynamics between Britain and China. The book identifies the evolving economic relations between the two countries and the development of genres and conventions of the London stage as the two most influential factors that affected the historical depictions and representations of China, arguing that the London stage selectively, as conditioned by the interplay of these two factors, incorporated new information and interest in China into its existing approaches to depicting and representing the country. The dramatic and theatrical genealogies examined exemplify how theatre bears the incomplete standing-in of cultural and geo-political memories from the past and witnesses the ongoing process of defining the self through demarcating, or interculturating, the other — taking or embracing elements of the other, infusing them with one’s indigenous cultural practices, and, through the course of time, gradually claiming the hybrid forms as one’s own. By probing the depictions of China on the London stage over a sustained period of time, this book aims to understand the dramatic works and theatrical productions both in themselves and in their relationship to the contemporary cultural and political contexts. Visiting scripts, playbills, illustrations, and contemporary reviews, Chang builds upon the theories of Orientalism and intercultural performance that current scholarship uses to examine the racial other on stage.