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Abstract

In his article "Peking Opera and Grotowski's Concept of 'Poor Theater'" Yao-kun Liu presents a comparative study of Peking opera and Western theater with special attention to Grotowski's concept. Explaining Peking opera's dramatic elements (such as gesture and body-movement) and theatrical devices (such as stage-setting, costume, and conventions) Liu elaborates on the universality and distinctions between Eastern and Western aesthetics of drama. As an attempt to reveal the speciality and uniqueness of Peking opera, Liu employs Jerzy Grotowski's notion of "poor theatre" in a context of Constantin Stanislavski's concept of empathy, Antonin Artaud's dramatic prophecy, and Peter Brook's notion of "deadly theatre." Liu comes to the conclusion that opposite to the spiritual and individual approaches of poor theatre, Peking opera in its long history and contemporary practice satisfies a social need for contact with culture and thus Peking opera is both educational and functional. Besides the purpose of entertainment, it is an instrument to transmit the attitudes, concepts, and knowledge of Chinese society and to instruct the audience about values and morals derived from Chinese ethics and philosophy.

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