Performing Bodies/Gendered Knowledge: A Contemporary Taiwanese Woman Artist's Theatrical Piece Inspired by Classical Chinese Literature
While a literary text establishes a verbal, permanent language on pages, a performance piece also relies upon the visual, kinesthetic body language in time and space to deliver meanings. This paper focuses on analyzing contemporary Taiwanese woman artist Fu-lann Tao's performance piece On the Way to the Peony Pavilion, a work inspired by Ming Dynasty male playwright Hsien-tsu Tang's dramatic text The Peony Pavilion. The goal of my paper is to explore the role classical literature plays in this contemporary Taiwanese performance piece, the approaches the woman artist takes to transform the classical literary work into a modern performance, and investigate how the performance may contribute to illuminate the cultural identity of contemporary Taiwan, using the artist's personal history and identity as vehicles. Drawing upon methodologies of comparing the performance and literary narratives, aesthetic analysis, socio-cultural contexting, as well as gender theories, this paper also seeks to decipher the various layers of aesthetic, socio-cultural, and gender meanings embedded in this performance piece. Indeed, the woman artist can described as having "deconstructed" the original classical dramatic text in her piece. Using performers' moving bodies to "rewrite" the original literary on stage, the artist has also added a distinct contemporary Taiwanese woman's perspective into her piece. Through my analysis of her work, I will also show how the woman artist creates a dialogue between the past and present, and make the classical literary work once again relevant to its contemporary viewers.
Keywords: The Peony Pavilion, Hsien-tsu Tang, Contemporary Taiwanese performance, Performing bodies, Classical Chinese literature, Fu-lann Tao
Ms Yinying Huang
Assistant Professor of English and Drama, General Education Center, Chang Gung University