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Visions for the Masses: Chinese Shadow Plays from Shaanxi and Shanxi

121 Visions of Masses
Fan Pen Li CHEN
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This collection of Chinese shadow plays contains seven selected traditional shadow plays from the Qing and early Republican periods from Shaanxi and Shanxi. A minor operatic genre, the Chinese shadow theatre provides one of the best avenues for examining the mentality and sense of humor of the silent masses. Although Shaanxi sports the largest number of shadow traditions in China and is where the art form is most vibrant, its shadow plays have never before been published in either Chinese or English. Translated from rare hand-copied play scripts, this volume includes the most literary and refined plays of the genre as well as coarser popular plays and farcical Post-midnight skits. It also features a survey of the state of the shadow theatre in contemporary China, extensive critical introductions and bibliography. | 284 pages


  • Plates
  • Foreword by David Johnson
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • Henpecked Zhang San
  • Rotten-Kid Dong Sells His Ma
  • The Jade Swallow Hairpin
  • The White Jade Hairpin
  • The Coral Pagoda
  • Yang Long Draws the Bow
  • The Temple of Guanyin
  • Bibliography

  • The first scholarly anthology of Chinese shadow scripts in English translation, [this book] increases our understanding of shadow puppet texts exponentially. ... Chen's work is engaged scholarship of the highest level. ... Visions for the Masses represents groundbreaking work in the field of Chinese puppet play translation.

  • FAN PEN LI CHEN received a Ph.D. from Columbia University and has taught at the University of Calgary and the University of Alberta. She is currently an assistant professor at the State University of New York at Albany. A grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada made it possible for her to make three trips to China where she interviewed with and videotaped the performances of more than fifteen surviving troupes in remote villages of seven provinces. Prof. Chen is also author of Chinese Shadow Theatre: History, Popular Religion, and Women Warriors (2007) and Marionette Plays from Northern China (2017).

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