From Uncle Tom's Cabin to Modern Chinese Drama
Oregon State University
In 1907, members of the Chinese student organization, the Spring Willow Society 春柳社in Tokyo, produced a play called Heinu yutian lu 黑奴籲天錄 (Black Slave's Cry to Heaven) based on Lin Shu's 林紓 translation of Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel Uncle Tom's Cabin. This production is generally considered the beginning of modern Chinese drama (huaju 話劇). In the next one hundred years, two more adaptations were produced. My paper will discuss these three productions to show how this new dramatic form differs from the traditional xiqu 戲曲and how the different adaptations reflected the changing social and political conditions in China. I will also compare the Chinese plays with the American novel to illuminate what transformations took place in the process of adaptation and their significance in the study of intercultural performance.
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