The Experimental Aesthetics of Global Sinophone Theatre: The Present, The Absent, and The Avant-Garde

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Focusing on the socio-political implications of Sinophone theatre network, this dissertation examines how the global circulation of Chinese-speaking theatre productions on the international stage challenges the conventional understanding of Chinese theatre as a pre-modern ethnic performance genre. My dissertation surveys a series of staged productions and dramatic plays produced by three artists whose works experiment with alternative manifestations of Chinese heritage that are positioned and performed outside of mainland China. These artists include Gao Xingjian (France), Edward Lam (Hong Kong), and Wu Hsing-kuo (Taiwan). The goal of this project is twofold. First, it asserts the importance of embodied knowledge to the fields of Chinese studies, Sinophone studies, and globalization studies, thus challenging the privileged position that textual knowledge has traditionally been granted. Second, through my discussion of the dramatic devices employed in the staged works of the above-mentioned theatre practitioners, I argue that the staging of alternative Chinese heritages highlights how “Chineseness” as an imagined category of cultural authenticity is destabilized by the bodily performance of things claimed to be Chinese that are in fact distinct from mainland traditions.