Peking Opera and Politics in Taiwan
By: Nancy Guy
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"Peking Opera and Politics in Taiwan" tells the peculiar story of an art caught in a sea of ideological ebbs and flows. Nancy Guy demonstrates the potential significance of the political environment for an art form's...Read more
"Peking Opera and Politics in Taiwan" tells the peculiar story of an art caught in a sea of ideological ebbs and flows. Nancy Guy demonstrates the potential significance of the political environment for an art form's development, ranging from determining the smallest performative details (such as how a melody can or cannot be composed) to whether a tradition ultimately thrives or withers away. When Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist government and military retreated to Taiwan in 1949, they brought along numerous Peking opera performers. Expecting that this symbolically important art would strengthen regime legitimacy and authority, they generously supported Peking opera's perpetuation in exile. Valuing mainland Chinese culture above Taiwanese culture, the Nationalists generously supported Peking opera to the virtual exclusion of local performing traditions, despite their wider popularity. Later, as Taiwan turned toward democracy, the island's own 'indigenous' products became more highly valued and Peking opera found itself on a tenuous footing. Finally, in 1995, all of its opera troupes and schools (formerly supported by the Ministry of Defense) were dismantled.
Nancy Guy investigates the mechanisms through which Peking Opera was perpetuated, controlled, and ultimately disempowered, and explores the artistic and political consequences of the state's involvement as its primary patron. Her study provides a unique perspective on the interplay between ideology and power within Taiwan's dynamic society. Nancy Guy is an associate professor of music at the University of California, San Diego.
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