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Imperial Institutions and Drama in the Qing Court

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This article is based on largely uninvestigated archival material in the First Historical Archives in Beijing. It addresses the following issues: (1) How and why an internal office, the Nanfu, which was responsible for drama performances inside the palace, expanded its functions to become a monitoring organisation, the Shengpingshu, which exercised censorship over all the drama groups in the capital. (2) How political events were reflected in drama performed on both public and private occasions, thus shedding light on the inner world of individual emperors. (3) How these institutional changes led to the Qing court playing an active role in the transformation of a regional lower-class entertainment into Peking opera, a national art form appreciated by all classes.


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