Printer Friendly

Brokering glory for the Chinese nation: Peking opera's 1930 American tour.

On 29 December 1929 a company of some twenty Peking opera actors, musicians, and artistic advisors left Shanghai for the United States. Head of the troupe was China's foremost actor of Peking opera, Mei Lanfang, who was already an international sensation. (1) The tour, to at least five major U.S. cities, would be a brilliant success. With a tremendous demand for tickets, the engagement in New York was extended from two to five weeks, during which Peking opera played to capacity houses. Scalpers were able to sell tickets that had cost $3.85 at the box office for as much as $18.00. (2) The critic for the New York World proclaimed that it was one of the "most exciting evenings" that he had ever spent in a theater. (3)

Mei's success in New York was so great that a banquet held in his honor, sponsored by the newspapermen's club, was attended by five thousand guests, including the city's mayor, Jimmy Walker. Tables at the affair, which was held shortly after the 1929 stock market crash, were priced at $500, while booths in the balcony went for $1000 each. (4) Upon arrival in San Francisco, the troupe was met by a huge delegation headed by Mayor James Rolph, Jr. (5) Mei's tour was to receive an equally warm welcome in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Honolulu. What, then, accounted for the tour's enormous success? The answer must lie with the Chinese motivation for organizing the tour and the reasons for the warm embrace of this aesthetically unfamiliar art form by American audiences.

Performance is a dualistic process; presenters have certain aims and audience members have particular needs and expectations. A common assumption is that presenters primarily aim to give an aesthetically pleasing performance. This view overlooks other motivations that may be of equal, and sometimes even greater, importance. Likewise, the reason that a person attends (or a crowd flocks to) a performance may exceed hoping to experience an artistically satisfying moment.

Mei Lanfang's 1930 tour to the United States (see fig. 1) provides an opportunity for examining the motivations of both presenters and receivers, and in this instance demonstrates that the Chinese and Americans entered into a discourse with each side having its expectations fulfilled. The highly favorable reception of the tour was by no means an accident, for the Chinese tour organizers had systematically studied the desires and aesthetic preferences of foreigners who had attended Peking opera performances (and Chinese culture in general) in China. They acted as "culture brokers" representing their own culture to nonspecialized others. As Richard Kurin has argued, culture brokering involves"the idea that these representations are to some degree negotiated, dialogical, and driven by a variety of interests on behalf of the involved parties." (6)


To understand the context of the success of Mei's troupe in America, we need to know the environment in which the tour was conceived and launched. How did conditions in China shape the motivations of tour supporters and the touring performers? What were the prevailing conditions in American culture that helped to create an atmosphere of receptivity to this foreign and aesthetically unfamiliar art form? But we need to begin with the central figure in this story: Mei Lanfang.

Born in 1894 to a prominent family of Peking opera performers, Mei was a superstar in his lifetime, and he remains one of the most important figures in the history of the genre. He made his stage debut at the age of eleven and had achieved national fame by his early twenties. His specialty was the performance of young female roles, and his performing style remains one of the most popular and widely practiced for such roles on the Peking opera stage. Cross-gendered performance was commonly though not exclusively practiced in China well into the mid-twentieth century. In fact, several of the last century's most important Peking opera performers, known as the "four great dan" (si da ming dan) of which Mei Lanfang was one, were male performers of young female roles. (7)

On account of Mei's stature, a substantial body of writings exists which covers many aspects of his life and artistic work, including the 1930 American performances. One of the richest sources documenting the tour are the writings of the prolific scholar and librettist Qi Rushan (1877-1962), who had a close working relationship with Mei. Qi, described as a "trailblazer in the field of comparative theater," (8) wrote vividly of his surroundings, his personal convictions, his own motivation for action. In his four-part essay "Mei Lanfang Travels to America" (Mei Lanfang You Mei Ji), Qi candidly documented the thoughts and activities of scholars, performers, and other supporters as they strove to package Peking opera in a form that would garner foreign acceptance. It is clear from Qi's comments that the tour was viewed not only as a vehicle to earn recognition for Mei Lanfang and the art of Peking opera, but also as a way of offering an opportunity to bolster the international standing of a semicolonialized and struggling China.

The process of packaging Peking opera for foreign consumption on this tour approximates the model of rhetorical discourse outlined by Mikhail Bakhtin in The Dialogic Imagination. (9) This model is particularly useful for the examination of strategies for cross-cultural presentation. The tour organizers actively entered into a dialogue with their target audience with the intention of provoking a specific answer or reaction. They anticipated this answer and structured their presentation accordingly. The work that went into planning the tour and the program's surface organization thus needs to be surveyed along with the historical, political, and social forces that shaped its structure.

My focus hence will be on four main areas of inquiry: (1) Examination of historical, political, and social contexts in which the idea of touring Peking opera in America took place. In this regard, the motivations of both performers and tour supporters are brought into clear relief. (2) Attention to Mei Lanfang's stature, especially among the community of foreigners in China in the second and third decades of the twentieth century. His success in this regard stimulated Mei and his champions to analyze systematically which aspects of Peking opera performance--and of Chinese culture generally--appealed to Westerners. (3) Discussion of how Peking opera was packaged and presented during Mei's American tour. (4) Documentation of the success of the tour and examination of the Americans' perceptions of Mei and the art of Peking opera.

The Art of Peking Opera

Peking opera is one of more than 360 different regional forms of Chinese opera which vary primarily according to the regional dialect used in song and speech as well as in their musical materials. In comparison with many of the world's other great musical theater traditions such as Japanese Noh, Italian opera, or Javanese wayang, Peking opera is a relatively new form. Its birth is popularly traced to 1790. (10) Imperial patronage from the middle of the nineteenth century onward attracted the support of other wealthy patrons and the interest of talented performers. By the late nineteenth century, Peking opera had become the most popular and widespread of all operatic forms in the country, and today it remains the best known of Chinese opera forms both inside and outside of China.

To the uninitiated, one of Peking opera's most striking features is its extensive use of visual and musical conventions and symbolism. Unlike the realism that is most common in the Western theater, the traditional Peking opera stage is practically bare with only a carpet, a table, several chairs, no backdrop, and little or no realistic scenery. A table may represent a desk, the dining platform in a banquet hall, or a high mountain. Actors' gestures and dance movement, in combination with the use of simple properties, communicate a wealth of dramatic information. For example, when brandished by its holder, a stylized horse whip in the shape of a tasseled stick suggests that the character is riding a horse. With a flourish of stylized movements, the actor drops the whip to the floor to show that the horse has been dismounted and tied to a pole or tree.

The use of symbolism and convention extends to the Peking opera's use of music as well. For example, a specific type of aria will communicate the character's emotional and psychological state. Some melodies carry very specific meanings, as in the case of tunes which inform the audience that a commander or high official will soon make his entrance. Rhythmic patterns in the percussion also carry extra-musical meaning and serve to complement the visual component. For example, the pattern known as "water sound" (shuisheng) is used whenever the action takes place aboard a boat. In a traditionally staged Peking opera, only a boat paddle is otherwise used to indicate the presence of such a vessel. The audience must rely on this simple prop, the actors' movements, and the "water sound" to fill in the scene.

The Historical Setting

The motive for undertaking the enormous task of organizing an overseas tour of Peking opera can only be understood against the backdrop of China's history and the social and political situation in the country in the earlier years of the twentieth century. Throughout the nineteenth century China had experienced numerous military defeats and diplomatic setbacks. After the disastrous Opium War with Britain in 1839, other foreign powers also joined in encroaching upon Chinese territories. China was pressed into a number of unequal treaties that effectively reduced it to a semicolonial state. In the year of Mei Lanfang's birth, China and Japan had engaged in a war that resulted in a humiliating defeat which had included the loss of the island province of Taiwan.

Just ten years prior to the American tour, the Paris Peace Treaty of 1919 granted Japan further occupation of Chinese territory and thereby ignited student protests against continued foreign imperialism. The May Fourth Movement, which took its name from the date of the uprising, took form as an intellectual movement between 1917 and 1921. Confucianism, traditional society, and classical culture were targeted by intellectuals as causes for China's backwardness, her failure to modernize, and her consequent inability to resist foreign occupation. This attitude led to widespread rejection of traditional culture and values among China's educated elite.

While Chinese culture was under attack within China, it also suffered from a lack of regard overseas. In discussing his experience in raising funds for the China Institute in New York in the late 1920s, Chih Meng reported:
 Americans in the late 1930's [sic] had more good will than respect for
 Chinese. Most of them felt sorry for the foreign-exploited nation of
 underdogs and most church members would contribute money to save the souls
 of the "heathen Chinese." But when it came to talking about Chinese
 culture: "What is it? Why should we bother? If Chinese culture is any good,
 how come the Chinese nation is in such a terrible fix?" (11)

Against this background, which included foreign occupation, increasing iconoclasm, and a lack of international standing, the possibility of an overseas Peking opera tour by Mei Lanfang appealed to many traditionalists. Supporters viewed a tour abroad as a possible means of gaining recognition and status for this quintessentially Chinese performing art and, by extension, for China and its culture.

The idea for the tour was first introduced at the farewell banquet of the resigning American foreign minister to China, Paul Reinsch. During his six years as foreign minister, Reinsch had developed a deep and sincere concern for the Chinese people. He resignation in 1919 was tendered as a protest against the unfair treatment of China at the Paris Peace Conference at the close of World War I. (12) In the interest of building closer ties between the Chinese and American citizenry, Reinsch suggested in his farewell speech that Mei Lanfang tour America. With this suggestion in mind, Qi Rushan and others set forth to make the tour a reality.

Mei Lanfang and His Foreign Audiences

Mei Lanfang had already been very well received by foreigners in China who had been among those fortunate enough personally to have witnessed his performances. Reinsch therefore believed that Mei was in a very good position to impress audiences in America favorably. In his book Mei Lan-fang: Foremost Actor of China, which was published in English just months prior to Mei's departure for the United States, George Leung recounts his appeal to foreigners: "Not only has Mr. Mei Lanfang endeared himself to the hearts of his own country men, but he has been a source of unending pleasure to foreigners. It requires a rare artistry to entertain people of alien lands when there are the barriers of language and stage convention, which differ so widely from those found elsewhere." (13)

In 1915, Mei performed his newly written opera Chang E Flies to the Moon (Chang E Benyue) to the American College Club in Peking. Qi proclaimed this as the earliest and most critical event in the history of foreign reception of Chinese opera. The opera featured a style of dance and singing that was visually stunning due to its use of costumes and hairstyles that were adapted from those pictured in ancient Chinese paintings. Upon seeing this particular opera for the first time, one of Qi's friends exclaimed: "From now on we have an opera to show foreigners." (14) Leung also noted that "ancient costume dramas" were a "type of drama that appeals to the average foreigner." (15) Indeed, the opera was well suited to foreign taste, and the audience was highly impressed by both the opera and Mei's artistry. This event served to arouse the foreign community's interest in Peking opera, and it encouraged the Republic of China's government officials to explore further the potential diplomatic uses of the art form.

During the 1920s, the Republic of China Ministry of Foreign Affairs arranged for many foreign guests and dignitaries to attend private performances by Mei. Performances were arranged for the French governor of Vietnam and the American governor of the Philippines, and both were held in the banquet room of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Before arriving in Peking in 1926, the Crown Prince of Sweden had alerted his Chinese hosts that he hoped to see Mei, and an unofficial tea party was arranged for him at the actor's home. Mei's popularity thus spread throughout the foreign diplomatic community. Attending a performance by Mei became an essential tourist destination for VIP foreigners, on a par with trips to the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, and the Great Wall. Some visitors even approached their own national embassies or business leaders in China about arranging personal meetings with him. Qi estimated that over a period of ten years, he and Mei entertained foreign visitors at least eighty times, and probably met between six and seven thousand guests. Each time the Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted such an event, an official was sent to supervise and assist. (16) Qi noted that in hosting foreign guests he was personally motivated by two main interests: first, he felt it was his duty to promote person-to-person diplomacy between China and other nations; and, second, he wanted to use the opportunity to publicize Mei's upcoming American tour. (17)

When Qi and Mei entertained foreigners at Mei's home, they welcomed their guests into a carefully constructed "ultra-Chinese" environment. Guests not only heard Mei sing, but they were also offered tea and snacks and sometimes a full meal. Peking opera was served as one course in a banquet of traditional Chinese culture. Qi explains:
 Our method of receiving guests always involved using implements that were
 purely ancient Chinese in style. The food and tea were all comprised of
 exquisitely beautiful Chinese ingredients. Among the cups, dishes, and
 chopsticks, as well as the room decorations, there was not one item that
 was not Chinese in style. We especially wanted to select things that were
 most able to represent the Chinese spirit as refined and noble. (18)

Qi was keenly aware that in the past Westerners visiting China typically had a poor impression of Chinese opera, and, he believed, they were ashamed to enter a Chinese theater. In entertaining at Mei's home, Qi and his fellow hosts created an atmosphere of elegance and refinement that presented Peking opera as just one of China's venerable cultural offerings. It is obvious from Qi's written descriptions of these performances in Peking that the purpose was ardently to gain a positive foreign reception for Peking opera, which in turn they believed would have the effect of gaining admiration for their country and its culture as a whole. Such a purpose is revealed in the very first sentence of Qi's essay "Mei Lanfang Travels to America": "Mei Lanfang's trip to America was unquestionably a great success. This is not only an honor for Mr. Mei, but all Chinese should be equally pleased because this [tour] has brought us international glory." (19)

Studying the "Other," Brokering the Art

Rather than passively hoping for foreign approval, Qi began a systematic study to discover which elements of the Peking opera were found attractive to foreigners and which were difficult for them to appreciate. To borrow Kurin's term, Qi Rushan actively stepped into the role of a "culture broker." In his study of the brokering of cultural performances at the Smithsonian Institution, Kurin writes: "Culture brokers empirically and interpretatively study the culture to be represented, arrive at models of understanding, develop a particular form of presentation from a repertoire of genres, and bring audiences and culture bearers together so that cultural meanings can be translated and even negotiated." (20) Mei's experience of performing for Western audiences in China thus served as a basis for anticipating the reaction to Peking opera that might await the tour in America. Qi and other supporters structured the presentation so as to emphasize the elements that had been well received by these audiences, and to eliminate those aspects that exceeded the foreigners' capacity for appreciation.

The process began seven or eight years before the tour when Qi began methodically to explore the question of foreign reception by making a study of their preferences for specific operas. He launched his investigation by asking Chinese students who had studied abroad--and who therefore knew something of "the foreign situation"--to predict which operas they felt would be most suited to foreign taste. In addition, he systematically asked the foreigners with whom he had contact in Peking to select their favorites from among the operas that they had seen. His explanation was that he questioned them as a means of "investigating the psychology of foreigners." (21) Investigation of this kind was in his view a crucial step in preparing to perform abroad.

After interviewing more than a thousand people, Qi was able to develop a list of operas that were most favored by foreign viewers. (22) His list had identified eight of the eleven titles programmed for Mei's New York City appearances, but a great deal is revealed about the Chinese perception of Americans' capacity for appreciating Peking opera in Qi's discussion of the way in which the other three operas came to be included in the tour repertoire. The primary criteria used in choosing these operas was that they must be easy to understand, with their dramatic development depending heavily on visual elements such as pantomime, clear facial expressions, and dance-acting. These criteria still persist as anyone who has seen a Peking opera staged specifically for a tourist audience in China or elsewhere can attest. For example, operas that make extended use of acrobatics, such as those featuring the playful monkey king Sun Wukong, and operas that rely heavily upon pantomime such as A Meeting at Three Crossroads (San Cha Kou) are frequently programmed for nonnative audiences and for audiences comprised of Chinese children. It is typically assumed that foreigners, like children, lack the capacity for appreciating works that feature singing or more subtle acting techniques.

In preparing the tour program, Qi worried "that because Americans were not accustomed to listening to Chinese opera, it would be difficult for them to maintain their interest. Naturally they would not want to sit too long." (23) As Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett has noted, contemporary folkloric companies frequently adapt European production values in preparing their performance for nonnative audiences. (24) Part of the strategy involves the presentation of a varied and eclectic program of short selections that are designed to hold the audience's interest, and this is precisely the tactic employed in shaping the program for Mei's American tour. Qi and the other tour planners created a formula for each evening's performances. They determined that an evening's show should not exceed two hours in length (including introductory announcements, intermission, and applause) and that a program should be comprised of several short pieces. Professor Zhang Pengchun, Qi's friend and the producing director on the tour staff, suggested that there should be a total of four different selections each evening to ensure that the audience did not get bored. Once the main repertoire was selected, Qi, who had written many of the libretti for Mei's operas, revised and abbreviated each opera. Because it was impossible to reduce four operas to less than thirty minutes each, they decided that one of the four items would be a dance selection, in each case extracted from Mei's full-length operas, to add variety to the program. By performing several different scenes "the story, movements and costumes all were constantly changing," thus avoiding the possibility of the audience feeling "fatigued" or overwhelmed. (25)

The selection and modification of the repertoire was just one aspect of the "packaging process" for the American tour. The stage and the entire performance environment also was given attention. In addition, the organizers believed that Americans should be provided with certain historical and background information to enhance their reception and understanding of Chinese opera. A number of well-wishers in Peking had advised them to decorate each of the American performance venues in an entirely Chinese fashion. The belief was that if the operagoers were brought into an unmistakably Chinese environment they would be more likely to approach Chinese opera on its own terms rather than to compare it with Western opera or drama. To achieve this end, in New York, for example, the organizers hung Chinese palace lanterns outside the theater's main door. More lanterns were hung inside the auditorium, and even the ushers wore Chinese-style clothing. A number of curtains were hung on the stage, each with a uniquely Chinese design. (26) The transformation of the performance space was designed to transport the audience from the mundane world of the familiar into an environment of wonder and strangeness. Kirshenblatt-Gimblet aptly notes that strangeness is an important feature of tourist discourse: "Historically ... we have long valued the inscrutable strangeness of the exotic as an end in itself." (27) Over the course of their years of hosting foreigners in China, Qi and Mei had become acutely aware of foreigners' fascination for the unfamiliar and their desire for what they perceived to be an "authentically" Chinese experience.

Though playing to the foreigner's appetite for exoticism, the tour organizers were also of course dedicated to promoting the audiences' familiarity with Peking opera performance conventions. To this end, an English-speaking Chinese-American mistress of ceremonies was hired to explain the theme of each of the performance segments and "to direct attention to the conventions of the acting involved." (28) According to the New York Times, Miss Soo Yong's "simple and charming explanation of every number" made the performance "easy to follow and enjoy." (29)

Further to advance their understanding of the spectacle unfolding before them, a thirty-nine-page program was issued to audience members which included a biographical sketch of Mei Lanfang and a description of various components. These included descriptions of musical instruments, costumes, and stage properties. A section entitled "What the Chinese See in Mei Lanfang" presented a guide to the appreciation of various components of his dramatic technique such as the expressiveness of his eyes, his "famous hands," and "the exquisite beauty of his stagewalk." (30) Fifteen pages of the program were dedicated to synopses of all of the operas and dance scenes in the tour repertoire. The ancient origin of many of the stories was stressed, names and dates were given for the dynastic period from which each was drawn. While there was no direct claim that the operas were in themselves ancient, the overall tone of the program stressed length of history and tradition, as, for example, in the claim that Mei "brings the best of that which has evolved in the millennia of China's drama." While, as mentioned above, Peking opera is a relatively new form with its beginnings commonly traced only to the late eighteenth century, American audiences were impressed by its "antiquity." This was confirmed in numerous reviews and articles. For example, the New York Times described Peking opera as "an art with two millenniums of tradition," (31) while the New Republic's review stated: "It is interesting to note the antiquity of this Chinese theatre, going back almost thirty centuries perhaps...." (32) Yet another New York Times review described one of the segments as a "dance of the Chou dynasty of 400 B.C." (33)

The American tour was a resounding success. The list of tour sponsors in New York reads like a Who's Who of high society and included Mrs. Woodrow Wilson, Dr. John Dewey, and Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt, among others. The New Republic heralded Mei's performance as "the highest point in the season's theater and in any season since Duse's visit and the Moscow Art Theater's production of Chekhov's plays." (34) Mei's other accolades included the granting of the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters by both Pomona College and the University of Southern California. Mei's 1930 American tour was launched at a period during which traditional culture was under attack within China, and China as a nation, was perceived both at home and abroad as weak. One of the fundamental aims of the tour was to improve China's international reputation. Mei's performance, with its existing record of foreign appeal, was seen as an ideal vehicle to reach this end. To ensure success, Peking opera was packaged in a form that made it accessible to the American audience. That the tour organizers correctly anticipated the response in this cultural dialogue is evidenced by the overwhelmingly positive reception to the tour.

American receptivity to this tour, however, points to an important direction for further study. Accounts from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries show a much different attitude toward this aesthetically distant art. For example, in an 1882 report a Chinese opera orchestra was described as producing an "unearthly noise." (35) Another candid journalist writing in 1895 expressed a similar view:
 to the nervous American a Chinese play at its best possesses few charms. A
 few minutes will satisfy him for a life-time [sic]. He wonders how anything
 human can live through such an excruciating din.... The band strikes up
 with ear splitting accompaniments of cymbals and gongs, amid which the
 actors scream forth their parts in a high falsetto key wholly
 unintelligible to an untrained ear.... The fiddles screech, trumpets blare,
 battles rage, drums and toms-toms crash, pandemonium breaks loose, and the
 visitor rushes out into the night to cool his throbbing brain. (36)

What could have produced such a dramatically different reception to Chinese opera less than four decades later? Certainly social conditions in America factored into acceptance or rejection of Chinese opera as an art form. The Asian theater scholar A. C. Scott conjectured that, with its arrival in the early days of the Great Depression, Mei's American tour "could not have come at a more psychologically apt moment. The public mood was prepared to be receptive to a dramatic art which ignored realism and whose calm values were those of a civilization with time behind it." (37) Mei's brilliant artistry and a well-chosen and presented program certainly played a significant role in producing such a positive reception. The Chinese presentation of the art of Peking opera, however, was only half of the story. A thorough investigation of the American response in this cross-cultural dialogue remains to be done.


(1) Mei had already performed in Japan in 1919 and 1924, and he would perform in the Soviet Union in 1935. His last overseas tour was given in Japan in 1956. Other significant early tours include Cheng Yanqiu's extended stay in Europe from January 1932 to April 1933. See Ma, Shaobo, et al.,Zhongguo Jingju Shi [A History of Chinese Peking Opera], 2 vols. (Beijing: Zhongguo Xiju Chubanshe, 1990),512-18.

(2) P. C. Chang, preface to Mei Lan-Fang in America: Reviews and Criticisms (?Tientsin, c. 1935), i.

(3) A. C. Scott, Mei Lan-fang: The Life and Times of a Peking Actor (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press), 109.

(4) Ibid., 111.

(5) Wu, Zuguang, Huang Zuolin, and Mei Shaowu, Peking Opera and Mei Lanfang: A Guide to China's Traditional Theatre and the Art of Its Great Master (Beijing: New World Press, 1980), 51.

(6) Richard Kurin, Reflections or a Culture Broker: A View from the Smithsonian (Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1997), 19.

(7) In China, the biological sex of the dramatic performer did not historically need to match that of the character he or she enacted. There is evidence of cross-gendered performance from as early as the Tang dynasty (618-907) when actresses performed male roles and apparently were more common than actors. Women frequently performed male roles during the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368), and men were also known to perform female roles. Driven by modernist ideology and Western-inspired homophobia, there was a move in twentieth-century China (particularly following the founding of the People's Republic in 1949) to train performers to play roles matching their biological sex. There are, however, still performers who specialize in cross-gender performance, particularly in regional opera forms such as Shanghai Shaohsing opera.

(8) Joshua Goldstein, "Mei Lanfang and the Nationalization of Peking Opera, 1912-1930," Positions: East Asian Cultures Critique 7 (1999): 377-420.

(9) M. M. Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays, trans. Carly Emerson and Michael Holquist (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1981), 280.

(10) In this year, performers from around China poured into Peking to participate in the celebration of Emperor Qianlong's eightieth birthday. Most important for Peking opera's development was the arrival of opera troupes from Anhui province. These troupes specialized in performing xipi and erhuang music which formed the basis of Peking opera music.

(11) Meng, Chih, Chinese American Understanding: A Sixty-Year Search (New York: China Institute in America, 1981), 150.

(12) John E. Findling, Dictionary of American Diplomatic History (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1980), 405.

(13) George Kin Leung, forward to Mei Lan-fang: Foremost Actor of China (Shanghai: Commercial Press, 1929).

(14) Qi, Rushan, Qi Rushan Quanji [The Complete Works of Qi Rushan] (Taipei: Lianjing Chuban Shiye Gongsi, 1979), 1016. All English translations from the original Chinese are mine.

(15) Leung, Mei Lan-fang: Foremost Actor of China, 43.

(16) Even after the Republic's capital was moved to Nanjing in 1927, Chinese officials stationed in Beijing continued to arrange meetings between Mei and foreign guests.

(17) Qi, Qi Rushan Quanji, 1019.

(18) Ibid., 1019.

(20) Kurin, Reflections of a Culture Broker, 21-22.

(21) Qi, Qi Rushan Quanji, 1083.

(22) Ibid., 1983.

(23) Ibid., 1049.

(24) Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, "Objects of Ethnography," in Exhibiting Cultures: The Poetics and Politics of Museum Display, ed. Ivan Karp and Steven D. Lavine (Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991), 421.

(25) Ibid., 1079.

(26) Qi, Qi Rushan Quanji, 1078.

(27) Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, "Objects in Ethnography," 428.

(28) J. Brooks Atkinson, "China's Idol Actor Reveals His Art," New York Times, 17 February 1930, sec. 2, p. 18.

(29) "Mei Lan-fang Gives a New Program," New York Times, 10 March 1930, sec. 4, p. 24.

(30) Ernest K. Moy, The First American Tour of Mei Lan-Fang (New York: China Institute in America, n.d.), 5-6.

(31) Herbert I. Mathews, "China's Stage Idol Comes to Broadway," New York Times, 16 February 1930, sec. 9, p. 2.

(32) Stark Young, "Mei Lan-fang," New Republic, 5 March 1930, 75.

(33) "Mei Lan-fang Gives a New Program," 24.

(34) Young, "Mei Lan-fang" 74.

(35) George H. Fitch, "In a Chinese Theater" Century Magazine 24 (1882): 189-92.

(36) Frederic J. Masters, "The Chinese Drama," The Chatauquan 21 (1895): 441-42.

(37) Scott, Mei Lan-fang, 108.

University of California, San Diego
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Guy, Nancy
Publication:Comparative Drama
Article Type:Biography
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:Sep 22, 2001
Previous Article:"Between Two Worlds": the Dybbuk and the Japanese Noh and Kabuki ghost plays.
Next Article:Shakespeare's "books of memory": 1 and 2 Henry VI.

Related Articles
National Ballet of China.
Arts Diary: Music and magic at Peking opera debut.
(Re)cycling culture: Chinese opera in the United States.
Drama Kings: Players and Publics in the Re-Creation of Peking Opera, 1870-1937.
Nancy Guy. Peking Opera and Politics in Taiwan.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters