Exploring Textual Media in Early Modern China and Korea
3: Across Page and Stage: Excavating New Theatrical Experiences of Selected Scenes in Late Ming China
Thursday, March 24, 2022
12:30pm – 2:00pm EST
Virtual Paper Presenter(s)
University of Michigan, United States
Selected scenes (xuanchu) from chuanqi plays became prevalent both on the page and onstage in late Ming China. Not only were compilations of selected scenes burgeoning in the print market, but performances of selected scenes were also enjoyed by a broad range of audience. When did scenes start to appear in chuanqi? How did the emergence of scenes shape the ways of consuming chuanqi on the page? What were the novel experiences that scenes brought to late Ming theatergoers? These are the questions that the paper attempts to address. Studies of compilations of selected scenes often situate the books in the late Ming print culture but understate their association with contemporary theatrical practices. Scholarly works on performances of selected scenes in the late Ming are confined to speculations of possible scenes performed at the time. In building upon the current scholarship, this paper negotiates between the page and the stage to conduct a closer examination of scenes. It first delineates the emergence of titled scenes in chuanqi plays. Then it takes drama miscellanies, a type of compilations of selected scenes that presents multiple registers on one page, as a point of departure to investigate the stage on which selected scenes were enacted. In excavating the theatrical experiences centered on scenes, the paper assesses the late Ming theatrical culture from a perspective that balances between the page and the stage.