MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Rosemary Roberts’s review of Rethinking Chinese Socialist Theaters of Reform: Performance Practice and Debate in the Mao Era, edited by Xiaomei Chen, Tarryn Li-min Chun, and Siyuan Liu. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/roberts/. My thanks to MCLC media studies book review editor, Jason McGrath, for ushering the review to publication.
Kirk Denton, MCLC
Performance Practice and Debate in the Mao Era
Edited by Xiaomei Chen, Tarryn Li-min Chun, Siyuan Liu
Reviewed by Rosemary Roberts
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright January, 2022)
This book brings together research by ten scholars of Chinese theater of the socialist period focusing on theater reform in the years from the late 1940s to early 1970s. The editors have done an excellent job in designing the collection so that the in-depth case studies work together as a series to demonstrate vividly that far from this being a period of ideological unity in which the Party exercised nationwide hegemonic control over the theater world, it was a complex period marked by significant disparities: between the more controllable cities and the out-of-reach countryside; between state funded troupes and those reliant on ticket sales for survival; between political intentions and aesthetic aspirations. Further contributing to the complexity of the situation, theater practitioners personally committed to the socialist cause and who had been prominent in theater reform efforts during the Republican era took up appointments in the Party bureaucracy to help guide the creation of a new socialist culture and found themselves continuously negotiating between artistic integrity and political imperatives in their continuing pursuit of theater reform. Continue reading