debut panel papers Megan Evans As with so many traditional performing arts, xiqu (the umbrella term encompassing the more than three hundred regional forms of Chinese opera) and particularly jingju (Beijing opera, the one nationally prominent form of xiqu) is perceived by its artists, scholars, and fans as being in a state of crisis. Owing to a complex web of factors, including interruption of traditional conduits of transmission during the Cultural Revolution (19661976) and a massive increase of competing forms of entertainment (both foreign and domestic) beginning in 1976 with the policy of "Reform and Opening Up" (gaige kaifang), audiences for xiqu, at least in Beijing,1 are declining precipitously. At the same time, companies must rely increasingly on box office revenues to support their work (Wichmann-Walczak 2000: 96 98; "Renewed theatre shakes off old image" 2004: 13). Thus there has been a general call for innovation in all aspects of xiqu performance to lure back audiences. Traditionally xiqu did not use a director, and one common tactic employed to facilitate innovation was to bring in directors trained in Western-style realistic spoken drama (huaju). By the early 1990s, this experiment was generally thought to have been a failure, because
Asian Theatre Journal – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Sep 26, 2007
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