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Day 1 16:15 Panel 7

Drama and Culture

Frankopan Hall

Lu Xiao (Lucia), Yan Ran, Zhang Haoxuan

Lu Xiao (Lucia)

Goldsmiths, University of London PhD

The Musical Theatre Encounter: The Chinese Consumption of a Western Form of Entertainment


The data from the National Bureau of Statistics of China shows that the national residents’ capita consumption on education, culture and entertainment is $257 in 2015, growing 23.3% compared with 2013. A recent study from British Council has surveyed that 69% Chinese people in the total population of 323.4 million expressed the willingness of going to a theatre including drama and comedy (Malde, 2016). With the globalisation of cultural flows, the cultural policy makers and arts organisations sought to boost people’s engagement of theatre performances. They have shown the desire to create the alternative form of so-called “Chinese musical” inspired by Western musical theatre since the 1990s, and the willingness to employ the American and British business models to facilitate the entertainment industry. This paper sets out to offer insights into understanding Chinese audiences’ post-performance experiences and a general impression of musical theatre, and enquires whether or not the art form and business models are applicable to Chinese economic, social and cultural contexts, which is able to achieve commercial success in order to drive a sustainable cultural economy. Yet few literature explores audiences’ experiences and perception of external cultural forms, and research into theatre audiences is rare outside the West. The anthropological method characterised as web ethnography or netnography has been employed to analyse 66 online reviews on three mega musicals, transferred from the West to China after 2010. Finally, the analysis suggests that Chinese audiences have known musical theatre from a variety of channels and it does not appear to show connections with the Chinese arts or entertainment in terms of understanding a less familiar Western form of entertainment. Moreover, the building of online fan communities is an important means that brings Chinese audiences together for remaking and consuming musical theatre.

Yan Ran

University of Birmingham, Year 4 PhD in Political Science and International Studies

Cross-class Televisual Carnival: Receptions of TV drama Rural Love Story by the Peasants and the Urban Middle Class in North China

Rural Love Story is China’s longest running comedic TV series. It follows the tiny household stories inside a small village in the North-eastern province of Liaoning. Although this drama depicts the life of peasants, it has attracted attention from a wide range of social groups.
This article focuses on the receptions of Rural Love Story by two different social groups in China: the peasants and the urban middle class. It examines the cross-class appeal of this drama with the concept of televisual style as well as the theories of carnival and cultural identity. There are three research questions in this study: first, what stylistic features are integrated into this TV drama; second, how the peasants and the urban middle class in China subjectively interpret and appropriate Rural Love Story to their own experience of cultural identities; last, how the carnivalisation of the drama’s televisual language helps it to generate a cross-class appeal.

This article combines textual analysis and interviews to answer the above questions. The televisual style of Rural Love Story is interpreted by a textual analysis of its most recent season, Season 11. Taking into account that Northern people have more in common with the lifestyle that this drama depicts, this research only focuses on the receptions of this drama by people living in the Northern part of the country. Informants are invited in Beijing and the Northern province of Shandong. They are invited mainly by referrals. There are 10-15 informants in each researched social group. By analysing the drama’s televisual style and the reception of it, this research seeks to explore the features of a successful TV drama which appeals to different social groups.

Zhang Haoxuan

Durham University, Year 4 PhD in Translation Studies

Re-Imagining a “Dream of China” through a system of intersemiotic translation models – A Case Study of Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon

Ang Lee’s self-remark of his film Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon as a “Dream of China” coined the observation made by Rey Chow of film as a form of cultural translation, i.e., a visual medium to translate culture through a representation of how culture is put together (Chow 1995). To this end, Roman Jakobson’s concept of “intersemiotic translation” (Jakobson 2004) enables film to be analysed as a form of translation which, in turn, enables culture to be re-imagined through audio-visual reconstruction, and thus transacted in a more accessible and transmissible manner than verbal medium.

This paper argues that Lee translates “China” intersemiotically into film by skilfully appropriating pre-existing audio-visualizations as his film’s non-verbal sources. These non-verbal sources, as intersemiotic translation models, each represent a symbolically empowered translation pattern of culture, through audio-visual construction, and each may be considered as a spectacle through which a culture is imagined. To this end, a multi-levelled system of intersemiotic translation models is proposed. This system recognizes culture and semiotics as two hierarchies that are each conditioned by their meaning-making mechanisms. Accordingly, each model relates to a specific type of semiotic system from a specific cultural system.

These intersemiotic translation models, and their functions, are explored through the case study of Lee’s Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. How Lee intersemiotically translates “China” by appropriating intersemiotic translation models is discussed and illustrated with reference to the proposed system. Through discussing how he concatenates multiple culturally and semiotically diverse models, this paper reveals how Lee re-imagined his “Dream of China”, and through this re-imagination gave China an afterlife by successfully transmitting these images across the globe.

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