The Poetics of Difference and Displacement

Twentieth-Century Chinese-Western Intercultural Theatre

(差異與替換詩學: 二十世紀中西方跨文化戲劇交流)

Min Tian

ISBN : 978-962-209-907-4

Film, Media, Fine Arts

June 2008

292 pages, 6″ x 9″

  • HK$395.00

The Poetics of Difference and Displacement is the first book in English that systematically investigates the twentieth-century Chinese-Western intercultural theatre. It demonstrates that what is central to the making of the twentieth-century Chinese-Western intercultural theatre is what the author calls the poetics of difference and displacement, which underlies its most significant aspects.

With the flourish and fruition of the twentieth-century intercultural theatre, critics, theorists as well as practitioners have advanced theories and models that explicate this phenomenon, and provide critical insights and sophisticated analyses.

In spite of their universalist or essentialist presumptions, the social, historical, cultural, political and ideological factors of the twentieth-century intercultural theatre are often ignored or downplayed.

The Poetics of Difference and Displacement views intercultural theatre as a process of displacement and re-placement of culturally specified and differentiated theatrical forces, rejecting any universalist or essentialist presumptions. It approaches the twentieth-century Chinese-Western intercultural theatre from an aesthetic as well as a social-historic, cultural-political perspective. It examines both the Western theatre’s interpretation and interculturation of the Chinese theatre by Bertolt Brecht, Vsevolod Meyerhold, Gordon Craig, Eugenio Barba and Peter Sellars and modern Chinese theatre’s interpretation and interculturation of the Western theatre.

This book will appeal to a broad range of readers including academics and students in theatre, performance, and cultural studies. It will also be of interest to a general audience of Chinese culture and intercultural communication.

Min Tian earned his Ph.D. in theatre from both the Central Academy of Drama in Beijing and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has taught at the Central Academy of Drama in Beijing as a lecturer and an associate professor, and has published articles and reviews in Theatre Research International, Asian Theatre Journal, Comparative Drama, New Theatre Quarterly, and Theatre Journal. He has also published many articles in Chinese academic journals. He now works at the University of Iowa. His recent book is Shakespeare and Modern Drama: From Henrik Ibsen to Heiner Müller (2006). He is now working on a book, Mei Lanfang, the Foremost Actor of China: A Sourcebook.

“Min Tian’s well-researched and carefully argued book shows Westerners and Chinese fruitfully misunderstanding each other’s theatre. Spanning several centuries, but concentrating on the twentieth, Min expounds on Craig, Meyerhold, Brecht, Brook, Barba, and Sellars on one side and Mei, Xiong, Jiao, Huang, and Gao on the other. He discusses Chinese Shakespeare and Chinese Greek tragedy. With exacting detail, Min shows how the ‘displacements and negotiations’ infused the Western avant-garde with energy and revitalized Chinese theatre. An important study, historically grounded, theoretically informed, and rich in detail.” —Richard Schechner, New York University

The Poetics of Difference and Displacement is an important contribution to the evolving understanding of intercultural theatre. For too long the subject has been viewed largely through the prism of Western culture. Min Tian provides a refreshing balance.” —Ping Chong, theatre artist, New York