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Performance As An Interaction With The Past

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Chapter Summary

This chapter investigates the contributions of performance illustrations to the drama culture of the Wanli period. As the performance illustrations are inspired by theatrical performances, the chapter investigates what kind of theatrical experience was so essential to the late Ming audience that they wanted to reproduce that specific experience through performance illustration in their reading. In those drama publications of the Wanli period featuring performance illustrations, the surrounding text either in the preface, post-face, prologue, or epilogue tends to emphasize the play’s function as a historical document. The chapter explains drama and history in their analogous role as a prelude to further discussion of the relation between performance illustration and the conception of drama as history.

Keywords: historical drama; late Ming audience; performance illustrations; theatrical performances; Wanli period



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