The Discursive Practice of Waiting for Godot Re-actualized as Beijing Opera on Taiwan Stage

By Wah Cheung.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Discursive practice refers to the construction of a network of social relations through language and other sign systems such as gesture and space. In theatre, discursive practice extends beyond the verbal to the visual, proxemic and kinesic parameters. In Chinese traditional theatre (or xiqu), singing, martial arts, and stylized movement and gesture are important systems of signs and modes of meaning production. Waiting for Godot is the first modern Western play acculturated into Beijing opera by Taiwan’s Contemporary Legend Theatre (CLT), whose intercultural adaptations of Western classics ranging from Medea to Macbeth have been well-known. The investigation of the discursive practice in CLT’s Waiting for Godot, which was premiered in Taipei in 2005 and subsequently toured Shanghai, can situate this intercultural performance at the intersection of the personal, sociocultural, and political forces in the unique environment of contemporary Taiwan. Taiwan’s socio-political climate and indigenization movement, as well as CLT’s artistic director Wu Hsing Kuo’s acquaintance with several Chinese translations of Waiting for Godot, the traditional Chinese play The Pavilion of Cool Breeze (or Qing Feng Ting), and Buddhist philosophy, have informed and shaped the production. This performance is significant not only in that it blends traditional Chinese and modern Western theatrical signs, but also because it is the site of contestation between opposite forces: the theatre artists’ quest for new forms in traditional theatre for its survival on the one hand, and, on the other, opposition from orthodox Beijing theatre, social oblivion to traditional arts, and Taiwan’s pursuit for an indigenous cultural identity distinct from the mainland Chinese. Therefore, CLT’s re-actualization of Beckett’s play is peculiar in its signification of spatiotemporally specific meanings to the 21st century Taiwan and its intercultural theatre, of which Wu is the main champion.

Keywords: Discursive Practice, Chinese Traditional Theatre, Waiting for Godot, Beijing Opera, Contemporary Legend Theatre, Taiwan, Intercultural Theatre

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp.105-118. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 757.797KB).

Wah Cheung

Lecturer, Division of Communication and Social Sciences, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Wah Cheung is a lecturer of English and Translation at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. He has taught courses such as Legal Translation, English Studies for Translators, and English Stylistics and Rhetoric, and supervised Translation Projects at the post-secondary level for a number of years in Hong Kong. Before teaching he also worked as a news translator in a media company and a freelance translator. His research interests lie in drama and theatre, intercultural studies, and English-Chinese translation. Currently he is working on research projects on the adaptations of Western plays into Chinese opera.


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