How Has the Chinese Diaspora Affected Chinese Theatre in the West

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Over the past decade studies on Chinese diaspora centered on how china and host countries interacted on the basis of world politics. Historically the earliest documented Chinese opera performance was recorded in 1852 in California. Moving forward in the decades after the first performance manifest that Chinese theater in the diaspora was mainly produced and benefitted the Chinese immigrants, European and Americans. Chinese theater in the west was as a result of Chinese immigrants who moved to the west in the 19th century. Before it Chinese theater could take and stamp its existence in the west it still passed through stages full of challenges. The study will focus on the Chinese immigrants struggles to find space in the west theaters with a reference to china doll; a china girl who has a big dream of making it through in the Hollywood. This research will be a bit different in the sense that it will focus on effect of Chinese diaspora on theatre in the west and back at home (china).

The dancing dragon: a reflection on how diasporic china through theater in the west has created a dance related cultural activities. Chinese who moved to Australia practiced cultural activities such as the dance opera, dragon dancing, and the young Chinese leagues debutante balls. The Chinese cultural activities have made the natives in the west to have a strong believe in Chinese cultures. In Australia for instance every lunar new year, the Chinese dragons are awakened. Initially the Chinese dragon was viewed as a symbol of Chinese masculinity but after being introduced in most plays in the west it has turned out to be respected culture by non-Chinese nations. In the play china doll the young girl is referred to as dragon lady indicating how dragons were valued in the theaters as a Chinese cultural symbol. Despite Chinese in the diaspora having their culture being played in most narrative plays, their culture is still considered to be foreign. Chinese American and Chinese Canadian have played a vital role in globalizing both the dragon dance and Cantonese opera. When immigrant Chinese came to the west they were considered minority, this prompted to find a way to seek identity. Theater was the only avenue they could seek identity. There is ethical issues on how Chinese culture has been reported in the west. To date Chinese culture in the west is ignored by dance historians simply since it is considered to be foreign.

Chinese diaspora put in struggles to ensure that they put a mark in Chinese theaters in the west. Mid 1990s the Chinese in the Americans screens faced problems regarding race, sex and cinema. The media works in America and Canada show how the different forms that use different aesthetic idioms in discussing the Chinese experiences in America. In the mid-1960s when civil rights movement and changes increased there was an exploration by the American filmmakers to define the role that Chinese in America could play. Despite the calls to have Chinese to play more roles in theaters there was a lot of rules that govern the heterosexual norms that related to Hollywood romance. Citing the book china doll it is narrated how Anna May Wong was forced by Hollywood to abide by rules set out by Hollywood. The rules forbade her to have an on screen kiss with a male who was of white ethnicity. Were in not for her struggles and perseverance the Chinese theater would not be having a big impact in the west like it is having today. The rules that alienated the Chinese resulted in the Chinese families to form bond with other ethnicity who had been alienated. The result was that the separation that was portrayed by Americans films collapsed, Chinese and African community bonded more. Hollywood has dominated the theaters globally and their support for Chinese immigrants had to continue that is with economic, aesthetic and ideological competition in mind.

Immigrants Chinese like Ang lee, jet li, Jackie Chan and John woo are example of Chinese who were supported by Hollywood. The west in particular America and Canada had in mind a way of dominating the theater industry and to do so it had to support Chinese diasporic filmmakers. Back at home in china most of diasporic Chinese have found out a good reason to go back and invest in opportunities that are found in the coproductions that is between Hong Kong and the PRC. 1989 saw china undergoing protests and suppression in the city of Beijing. The protests prompted the Chinese diaspora to take the take theater in America as a platform to view the china politics at global level.

The rise of the martial arts cinema courtesy of the Chinese diaspora. A critical analysis by Kin-Yan Szeto is given on how the martial arts cinema of the Chinese diaspora rose up after they had to leave their home to USA. Their struggle in the foreign theaters led them to become commercially successful. Ang lee, John Woo, and Jackie Chan are the three most popular martial arts who took Chinese diasporic theater by storm. The success of these artist is prove that china was having an impact at the global stage. The unique talents diasporic Chinese have on the US theaters is a development that demonstrates a transnational environment of the media production. The historical retrospective on the Chinese martial arts being a diasporic genre was faced with forces from colonialism and imperialism. These factors led to approaches in which the martial arts would achieve global success. Example of work by the Chinese diaspora that has been successful include Ang lees crouching tiger and the Hidden. The performance of these theatric works led to revelation of the way Asians are represented in the Hollywood. The role played by male and female comes out clearly in the play the swordplay. Chans in his films has an impact on masculinity and the influence his Chinese theater as well as the martial arts training have on his works. The three martial arts through their works in Hollywood could communicate on only to themselves but to the rest of the world.

The discourse of the Chinese identity between the local and the global position. Just like the China Doll the Chinese diaspora faced a lot of conventional stereotyping and ultimately a simplification of subjectivity. The crouching tiger hidden dragon the works in the theater worked hard to contribute an alternative way in which the Chinese in the diaspora could understand their national identity at the same time trying to relate to the cultural politics and the impact they would have on the age of transnationalism and uncertainty. The past decades witness Chinese cinema making a breakthrough in the global theaters. The rise in Chinese in the diaspora led to development of critical issues as they faced global visibility of being a minority subject. The big problem faced by the Chinese in the diaspora was how they could pass its Chinese identity to become a cross-cultural commodity at the global stage. Ang Lee being one of the Chinese diaspora took it upon himself being a director to make sure that the Chinese representation of its culture is represented. Were in not for the struggle the Chinese faced in ensuring they market their identity the Chinese back at home would not be enjoying the global glory they are having.

Chinese diaspora has an influence during the struggles for rights representation with an objective on the ethics of intercultural theater practice. Despite Chinese in the diaspora having spent most of their time in USA they were still not considered to be part of the western society. The struggle is witnessed from the way the china doll struggled to be accepted to play different roles as an actor. The Chinese in the diaspora were only allowed to play characters that were crudely Chinese and not as the usual ordinary roles that were open to actors of the western races. A good example was the use of yellow face to compare to a black face, this was a form of mockery to the actors race. This was not ethically correct and there was need to understand that an actor in the theater should not necessarily have to reflect their character. In 1990 the producer Cameron Mackintosh had brought in the theaters miss Saigon. The play took place in Vietnam War and its focus was war. The only problem with the play was that there was a revelation that Jonathan Pryce who was a white British actor had reprise his role as Eurasian Engineer. This ethical issues was similar to the practice of yellow face productions cast non-Asian roles that were written for Asians. The casting by the white actor had been written specifically for the Asian actor. All these ethics problems are what the Chinese diaspora faced when it came to casting.

How Chinese diaspora has led to theatrical collaboration in the age of globalization back at china? Chinese diaspora has helped put china at a global scene. There is need to find all the ways in which the Chinese experience can be combined with specific conditions at a view of the regional and global setting. Up until before there were migrants to USA the Chinese had always been firmly within its regional historical context. China opened profoundly to the outside world just immediately after the 19th century. It is at this period that the Chinese theater in the west made efforts to ensure that the Chinese cultures had been known. China figured out that it had a cultural stars who would sell their ideas of making an impact in the global stage. The Chinese diaspora has been conceived in different ways but the dichotomy that exist between the tradition and the modernity that Chinese culture carries is still the main thing that make the Chinese theater to remain vibrant both at home and in the west. The Chinese uniqueness in the way they performed their arts is what made it possible for them to be able to take a big stage in the diasporic theaters. Were it not for actors such as the china doll to persist and be strong towards achieving in through the Hollywood then the Chinese theater would not be as popular as it is today. The Chinese influence owe one to the Chinese theater.

How Chinese diaspora has led to theatrical collaboration in the age of globalization back at china


Chen, X. (2002). Acting the right part: political theater and popular drama in contemporary China. University of Hawaii Press.

Chen, X. (2002). Acting the right part: political theater and popular drama in contemporary China. University of Hawaii Press.

Wong, E. (2003). China Doll. Alexander Street Press.

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