The essay provides a brief review of how certain approaches to theatricality evolved in response to particular theatrical archives or repertoires in non-Chinese contexts. It then considers a number of recent studies of Chinese drama and theater in light of the following issues: the nature of theatrical language, the emergence and uses of fictionality, and the reconstruction of performance aesthetics. In focusing on these particular areas, the essay seeks to show how such research can contribute toward countering entrenched characterizations of xiqu as “non-drama,” “spectacle,” or “pure heritage.” The final section of the article proposes some future avenues of inquiry in order to deepen the dialogue between Sinology and theater studies while providing tools for sustaining the practice of xiqu and fostering broader appreciation of traditional Chinese theater in Anglophone, Chinese-speaking, and other contexts.

You do not currently have access to this content.