Tuesday, June 28, 2011

China and the Bard

So, Wen Jiabao finishes his 3-day visit to Britain. Interesting that he began it by visiting Shakespeare's birthplace and that the trip wasn't just about economics.

Shakespeare plays have been read and studied for over a hundred years in China, and post-Mao they've also been increasingly performed; the Old Vic were early visitors with Hamlet in 1979. This summer the Shanghai Peking Opera Troupe will bring a version of Hamlet (The Revenge of Prince Zi Dan) to the Edinburgh Festival complete with acrobats, and King Lear will be deconstructed as a one-man show by Contemporary Legend Theatre from Taipei.

But what about the other way round? I wonder if in 50 years time we'll be studying Cao Xueqin, author of Dream of the Red Chamber, one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. I wouldn't be surprised.

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