Miu Lan Law
Towards a Hybrid Aesthetics: A History of Interweaving by German Theatre Artists with Chinese Theatre Cultures in the Early 21st Century
The central question that motivates this doctoral dissertation is: What kind of new knowledge, regarding theatre model, historiography and aesthetic experience, arises from the interweaving of German theatre artists with Chinese theatre cultures in the intercultural theatre at the beginning of the 21st century? The investigation of artistic practices, histories of relations between German and Chinese theatre cultures, and intercultural aesthetics has to be further in progress.
Following the initial idea of a Sino-German theatre, the concepts of “hybridization” and “hybrid formation” function as theoretical frameworks and are defined in the transversal category of connecting and interweaving of theatre cultures. A reception and transfer history of Chinese (theatre) cultures in the German-speaking theatres in the 17th to 18th and 20th centuries are first examined. This background knowledge lays the groundwork for understanding the present collaborative development of German artists referencing Chinese theatre culture.
Three exemplary theatre productions and their performances were selected: Quintet in the theatre project One Table Two Chairs 一桌兩椅 (2000), 走為上zouweishang.ATTEMPTS to escape. An Absurd-Comical Experimental Investigation of Gao Xingjian’s Dramatic Life and Work (2001), and Chief Evening Breeze 晚風酋長 (2003). The production conditions, the approaches employed by the German artists to their Chinese counterparts/the Chinese cultures, and their understanding of theatre as well as its functions are explored by means of field studies (as a participating observer or artist), interviews and correspondence with theatre artists. According to the relevant descriptions, these three theatre performances are analyzed using the concepts of interaction, fleeing and mediation. While viewing the relationship with the world, the aesthetic meaning, concerning the interwoven figures, “interartists“, “cosmopolitans” and “mediators” in each performance respectively, is visionary-imaginatively, politically and social-culturally illustrated.
On the basis of the results of the approaches employed, three mechanisms of hybridization, which are transition, transformation and translation, are to be included as description categories of historiography. Hence, an interweaving history can be written according to the operation mode of hybridization of theatre cultures in the connected network of transnational productions between the local and the global as well as its feedback on theatre culture. Thereby, a new theatre model of interdependence and syntagma is generated through interconnecting acts carried out by both cultures. A hybrid aesthetics is proposed, by which a new world view is embodied by the interwoven figures for the “creation”, the “freedom” and “the middle way” in humanity. A new world order, as conceived by complementary creativity of various cultures, then appears from the interweaving of different cultures, and the humanity is therefore put into focus.