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Modern Chinese Drama

Modern Chinese Drama, or Huaju ("spoken play"), started to develop in the early part of the last century in Shanghai.

Different from traditional Chinese operas, it soon won fans for its realistic portrayals of the lives of common folk and for its wide range of works from such Western playwrights as Shakespeare, Moliere and Chekhov. Since then, a number of Chinese playwrights have created works that realistically reflect the changes in the lives of the Chinese before and after the founding of New China.

The most memorable include "Teahouse," "The Beijing Man," "The Thunderstorm," "The Family" and "The Prairie."

Younger playwrights have tried to develop a more modern style, exploring the inner psyche of personalities with more modernist works and incorporating more modern theatrical techniques.

Western Drama in Chinese View

During the development of Chinese drama, it was some Chinese diplomats who made the first contacts with western drama during their visits to western countries. They watched some western plays partly because they attended diplomatic receptions and partly out of pure curiosity.

Modern Chinese Drama at the Initial Stage

In general, drama historians deemed the Spring Willow Society's performance of la Dame aux Camelias and Uncle Tom's Cabin in Tokyo as the beginning of modern Chinese drama.

First Directors of Chinese Modern Drama

Hong Shen and Zhang Pengchun had made indelible contribution to the establishment of modern Chinese director system. Prior to them, there was no director in China when any play was staged.

Emergence of Realism in Modern Chinese Drama

May Fourth Movement ushered in a period of "absorbing new trends and shaking off the outmoded conventions". China opened her arms to embrace almost all western drama trends that appeared or were emerging during that period. These schools include Oscar Wilde's aesthetic drama, the symbolist drama represented by Maurice Maeterlinck, Gerhart Hauptmann and Leonid Nikolayevich Andreyev, expressionist drama presented by August Strindberg and Eugene O'Neill and the Italian futuristic plays. Chinese dramatists named them all as "neo-romanticism".
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