After Thought: Archiving Absence through a Practice-as-Research Production of Xiong Shiyi’s Lady Precious Stream

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Lady Precious Stream is the most globally successful Chinese play in history, written by the Chinese émigré Xiong Shiyi (1902-1992). This English translation of a Chinese xiqu (“traditional drama”) play premiered in London’s West End in 1934, and was an instant critical and commercial triumph. Drawing upon archival sources, the play was directed by the author as a practice-as-research project in 2011 to investigate how Chinese drama aesthetics might have been used in the original production. The full extent of Xiong’s intercultural hybridity can only be comprehended in performance. The article offers a self-reflexive comment on the archiving of practice-as-research. It proposes that the acknowledgement of absence in archival material opens up a reflexive space where the subjective nature of interpretation can be interrogated. This absence is expressed through different media and across different temporalities: in the process of creating the archive of the original performance, in the mining of that archive for resources to inform contemporary practice, and in the subsequent archiving of contemporary practice in articles such as this.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-99
Number of pages17
JournalTDR: The Drama Review
Issue number1
Early online date25 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 25 Feb 2019

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