In May of 2017, I founded the UC Davis Chinese Drama Club: a group that produces bilingual performances of modern Chinese plays for the campus. In 2017, we performed Ouyang Yuqian’s 欧阳予倩 tragicomic one-act about reverse culture shock: After Returning Home (Huijia yihou 回家以后) (1922). In 2018, we performed the female playwright Yang Jiang’s 杨绛 comedy of manners about gender politics in wartime Shanghai Forging Fiction From Fact 弄真成假 (1944)。
I suggested organizing this kind of student-centered performance group in order to enhance a number of curricular, departmental, and university goals
- Modern Chinese spoken drama scripts (huaju 话剧) are rarely performed – especially on US college campuses – which limits the extent to which our students can fully understand their impact on audiences. This project was part of my dedication to teaching theater through interactive performance, a topic I discussed at the Comparative Literature Conference in October 2017.
- The UC Davis Chinese department has been interested in increasing the sense of community between the large variety of students we serve: from non-heritage speakers to international students and first generation college attendees. This performance was one of the first opportunities our students from content classes and literature courses had to interact outside the classroom and begin to form long-term connections that will benefit our campus culture and compliment the UC Davis Chinese Language Program
- Thanks to help from the Confucius Institute, we worked to reach out to members of the campus who might not ordinarily attend Chinese cultural events: professors of world theater, local theater directors and actors, and the communities who supported our cast members.
What was first an extension of Xiaomei Chen’s curriculum for her Chinese Drama Class, is now a year-round student-operated extracurricular club. We have been able to be more and more ambitious with our choice of content, methods of outreach to audiences, and use of technology. The participants are not only Chinese majors. Students focusing on Japanese Linguistics, Film Studies, Theater, Managerial Economics, and Statistics have contributed
The assistant director and technical director assist the actors with filming the bilingual trailer for Forging Fiction From Fact
For more details about the performances, please visit the two websites our students have designed