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By Xiaomei Chen

Staging chinese language Revolution surveys fifty years of theatrical propaganda performances in China, revealing a dynamic, advertisement skill in works frequently pushed aside as artifacts of censorship. Spanning the Nineteen Sixties throughout the 2010s, Xiaomei Chen reads motion pictures, performs, operas, and tv indicates from an interdisciplinary and comparative point of view, demonstrating how, in a socialist country with "capitalist characteristics," propaganda functionality turns biographies, memoirs, and conflict tales into mainstream ideological commodities, legitimizing the kingdom and its correct to rule. interpreting propaganda functionality additionally brings contradictions and inconsistencies to mild that throw universal understandings approximately propaganda's function into question.

Chen makes a speciality of revisionist histories that level the lives of the "founding fathers" of the Communist social gathering, equivalent to Chen Duxiu, Mao Zedong, and Deng Xiaoping, and the attractive mixture of elite and traditional characters that animate reputable propaganda within the deepest and public sphere. Taking the shape of "personal" stories and representing celebrity and early life tradition and our on-line world, modern chinese language propaganda appeals via a number of views, complicating family between self, topic, agent, kingdom construction, and nationwide identification. Chen treats chinese language functionality as a longer type of political theater confronting serious problems with commemoration, nostalgia, kingdom rituals, and contested historical past. it truly is via those reenactments that 3 generations of innovative leaders loom in notable methods over chinese language politics and tradition.

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Additional resources for Staging Chinese Revolution: Theater, Film, and the Afterlives of Propaganda

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20 Yu Shizhi 于是之, who had read volumes of Mao’s works in order to act Mao’s brief appearance in this 1951 play, performed the role of Mao again in a 1978 film called A Great River Flows On (大河奔流), in which Mao meets the female protagonist of the film to encourage her efforts in leading the masses to tame the Yellow River, and again as a remote image without close-up shots. Since then more than thirty actors have impersonated Mao in numerous performance pieces until the present day. The chapter focuses on the central theme of “never becoming a Li Zicheng” 李自成 in several performance pieces on Mao, and I argue that theatrical allusions to Li as a peasant uprising leader who had overthrown the Ming dynasty, only to be overthrown himself three months later thanks to his own corruption, worked with the ruling ideology’s strategy in celebrating Mao as a wise leader who had warned his party never to repeat Li’s mistakes, after the CCP seized political power in 1949.

Tian’s brilliant leadership in traditional operatic theater reform ultimately led to the model theater as the perfect proletarian form of literature and art during the Cultural Revolution. Furthermore, Tian pioneered theatrical representations of revolutionary leaders and heroines in his plays and films, which expanded on the post-Maoist and postsocialist stage into a thriving genre of plays of revolutionary leaders, thus participating in the rewriting and reconfiguring of socialist history and especially CCP history.

It is still important to offer, in this introduction, a few hints at the legacy of these three theater founders and their tremendous impact on performance culture in twenty-first-century China. At the same time, I hope to offer a brief historical survey of some crucial moments and issues in the history of modern Chinese theater in the Republican period to facilitate a better understanding of where the plays about revolutionary leaders in contemporary China (1949–present) come from and what has been transformed in the latter from their impressive predecessors.

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