OUYANG YUQIAN (1889—1962) - The Dictionary

Chinese Literature - Li-hua Ying 2010

OUYANG YUQIAN (1889—1962)
The Dictionary

OUYANG YUQIAN (1889—1962). Play and screenplay writer. One of the founders of modern Chinese theater and cinema, Ouyang Yuqian often acted in the plays he wrote and directed and his impact on Chinese performing arts is profound. Ouyang spent his teenage years studying in Japan, where he joined a theater club. In 1906, he began training to be a Peking opera actor at the age of 17 and launched his professional acting career nine years later. His success at playing the female role earned him eminence comparable to that of Mei Lanfang, the legendary Peking opera actor who also impersonated women onstage. Ouyang expanded the Peking opera repertoire with several of his own pieces, including Pan Jinlian (Pan Jinlian: A Seductress), Daiyu zang hua (Flower Burial), and Yuanyang jian (A Pair of Swords), as well as offering performance techniques and stage installations shaped according to his own aesthetics.

From the opera stage, Ouyang moved on to transform the Chinese theater, introducing huaju (spoken drama), a new form influenced by the Western genre of play. He wrote and directed historical plays such as Mulan cong jun (A Woman Warrior) and Tao hua shan (The Peach-Blossom Fan). Having established his reputation in the theater, Ouyang entered the film industry, again writing, directing, and sometimes acting in his own films. Tianya genii (A Female Street Singer), Qingming shijie (At the Qingming Festival), Xin taohua shan (A New Version of the Peach-Blossom Fan), and Yehuo chunfeng (Blustery Wind and Wildfire in Spring) are among his most memorable films. In keeping with the spirit of the times, these films promote progressive agendas such as the emancipation of women and national salvation. After 1949, Ouyang held several positions in the Chinese theater and academia, including president of the Chinese Academy of Theater and chairman of the Chinese Dance Association. See also LEFT-WING ASSOCIATION OF CHINESE WRITERS; SINO-JAPANESE WAR; SPOKEN DRAMA.