Qian Chen

Humanities Research Centre, College of Arts & Social Science

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Qian Chen


Qian Chen is a PhD student at the Australian National University majoring in Literature and Art, and before coming to study in Australia was an amateur Chinese traditional opera actor. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Heze University and a Master’s degree in translation from Central South University, and is now doing research on adaptations of Shakespeare’s play in Chinese traditional opera.

Program Title: Adaptation of Shakespeare in Chinese Traditional Opera

Shakespeare has been a hot topic in China since he was introduced to the Chinese by Lin Shu in his book Sizhou Zhi in 1839. Starting from early 20th century, the adaptation of Shakespeare’s plays in Chinese traditional opera combines the essence of two different cultures and provides the audience with a new insight into both – into Shakespearean drama, as well as into Chinese traditional opera. Like all adaptations, the adaptation of Shakespeare into Chinese traditional opera exposes cultural priorities and assumptions – aesthetic and ideological – that demand close, cautious interpretation.

While some audiences think the adaptation is a brilliant attempt, others consider it “neither fish nor fowl”. What has been changed in the adaptation? Can the adaptation still be thought of as Shakespearean at the same time as being accepted as Chinese traditional opera? By examining some representative adaptations in Peking Opera, Yue Opera and Kun Opera, this program focuses on the confrontation and reception during the adaptation process, as well as on the ways in which Shakespeare’s plays are changed in the course of their adaptations.

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