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The Actor in Thirds: Gao’s Theory of Performance

  • Todd J. Coulter

Abstract

Following the chapters on jingju and absurdist aesthetics, this chapter takes up Gao’s sense of aesthetics, one that draws on both traditions and arguably goes beyond them. Gao has a concept of the tripartitioned self, or the actor in three parts. There is a neutral actor, the actor, performing-character, and the character. The chapter recognizes similarities to Brecht’s performance theories, but goes on to demonstrate how Gao’s dramaturgy activates his tripartitioned actor in different ways. The chapter introduces a semiotic lens to demonstrate this and takes up the importance of language in Gao’s work and how it disrupts identity.

Keywords

Neutral Actor Narrative Mode Metropolitan Museum Sketch Conceptualism Narrative Subject 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Gao Xingjian and Denis Bourgeois, Au plus près du réel (Paris: Editions de l’aube, 1997), 12.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Gilbert Fong, “Gao Xingjian and the Idea of Theatre,” in Soul of Chaos: Critical Perspectives on Gao Xingjian, edited by Tam Kwok-kan (Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 2001), 147–156.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    Tracy C. Davis and Thomas Postlewait, “Theatricality: An Introduction,” in Theatricality (Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 6.Google Scholar
  4. 15.
    Mabel Lee, “Pronouns as Protagonists: On Gao Xingjian’s Theory of Narration,” in Soul of Chaos: Critical Perspectives on Gao Xingjian (Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 2001), 235–256.Google Scholar
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    Bertolt Brecht, “A Short Description of a New Technique of Acting,” Brecht on Theatre: The Development of an Aesthetic, translated by John Willett (London: Methuen, 1964), 139.Google Scholar
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    Maxwell K. Hearn, “Introduction,” Chinese Art: Modern Expression, Maxwell K. Hearn and Judith G. Smith, editors (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2001), 19.Google Scholar
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    Gao Xingjian, Pour une autre esthétique (Paris: Editions Cercle d’art Paris, 2000), 12.Google Scholar
  10. 45.
    Gao’s description and employment of the individual closely echoes the work of Homi Bhabha and in particular his writings on cultural hybridity and postcolonial identity. See Bhabha, Homi K. Bhanha, The Location of Culture (New York: Routledge Classics, 2004).Google Scholar
  11. 51.
    Julia Kristeva, Language: The Unknown, translated by Anne M. Menke (New York: Columbia, 1989), 4.Google Scholar
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    Gao Xingjian, Le Témoinage de la littérature (Paris: Seuil, 2004), 87.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Todd J. Coulter 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Todd J. Coulter
    • 1
  1. 1.Colby CollegeUSA

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