ATHE 2012 has ended
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Patrick McKelvey

Brown Univeristy
Dis-Affection and Theatrical Labor
US American
Bertolt Brecht’s theory has a greater impact on Chinese opera than otherwise, despite his incorrect and misleading perception on Mei Lanfang, as observed by such critics as Leonard Cabell Pronko and Min Tian. The reception of his theory, particularly alienation effect, by Chinese theatre and academia witnesses the evolution of Chinese opera’s construction of subjectivity in different periods. This paper stratifies three adaptations of his Good Person of Setzuan in Chinese opera, focusing on how his theatrical philosophy is received and negotiated through varying socio-political contexts. The Sichuan opera adaptation in 1987 painstakingly imposed Brechtian alienation on traditional Chinese theatre, which won wide academic acclaim because of its subjugation to Brecht, although its overemphasis on formal integration blurred Brecht’s philosophy. It represented Chinese theatre’s devoid of self-conscious when overwhelmed by “advanced” Western theatre. In its 2002 re-adaptation in Sichuan opera, the obsession with alienation effect was considerably diminished and the content modernized and localized. What was highlighted was Brecht’s quintessential social and political critique. When it was adapted into Shaoxing opera in 2012, Brecht’s spell was completely removed in that except the plot, the source play left no remarkable imprint regarding theatrical form, yet it subtly assimilated Brecht’s philosophy into Shaoxing opera’s aesthetics. In conclusion, the transformation of The Good Person of Setzuan on Chinese stage has marked Chinese culture’s evolving subjectivity underpinned by growing confidence and self-conscious against Western influences.