East Meets West: Identity and Intercultural Discourse in Chinese huaju Shakespeares

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Abstract

This article examines two huaju performances of Shakespeare—The Tragedy of Coriolanus (2007) and King Lear (2006), which are good examples of cultural exchanges between East and West, integrating Shakespeare into contemporary Chinese culture and politics. The two works provide distinctive approaches to the issues of identity in intercultural discourse. At the core of both productions lies the fundamental question: “Who am I?” At stake are the artists’ personal and cultural identities as processes of globalisation intensify. These performances not only exemplify the intercultural productivity of Shakespearean texts, but more critically, illustrate how Shakespeare and intercultural discourses are internalized and reconfigured by the nation and culture that consume and re-produce them. Chinese adaptations of Coriolanus and King Lear demonstrate how (intercultural) identity is constructed through the subjectivity and iconicity of Shakespeare’s characters and the performativity of Shakespeare’s texts.

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