What Kind of Cosmopolitanism? Transplantation and Displacement in the (Re)construction of Theatrical Nationality in Early Twentieth-Century China and Japan


Yang Gao


The European research trips of the Jingju actor Cheng Yanqiu and the kabuki actor Ichikawa Sadanji II and the theatrical discourses and/or stage practice revolving around the trips illustrate two approaches to addressing the (re)construction of theatrical nationality in early twentieth-century China and Japan. Ichikawa Sadanji aspired to push kabuki further towards a Western theatrical cosmopolitanism by transplanting more stage elements of Western theatre into the stage presentation system of kabuki performance. By contrast, Cheng Yanqiu sought to displace Western theatre with xiqu as the new foundation of an alternative theatrical cosmopolitanism. These approaches, in a sense, were two sides of the same problematic vision of a unitary cosmopolitanism whose foundation was a clear-cut dichotomy of (im)pure traditionality/locality and pure modernity/universality. Only by upholding the principle of discrepant cosmopolitanisms in which various theatrical traditions that are interpermeable and interchangeable with others in a natural and dynamic hybridization process could Chinese and Japanese theatre gain a firm foothold in the forest of theatre arts in the twenty-first century world.

Comparative Drama is carried by JSTOR and Project MUSE.