Cross-Cultural Pioneers: American Artists’ Experiences with Peking Opera

Cross-Cultural Pioneers: American Artists’ Experiences with Peking Opera was Chinese Theatre Works fourth forum in our series focusing on Chinese Opera. This forum focused on the experience of American artists coming into contact with Peking Opera. In particular, the conversation centered around East-West Fusion Theatre’s 1986 production of The Black Bowl, which featured artists from Eastern and Western backgrounds. Incredibly, 35 years later, we were still able to bring together virtually the entire original cast and production crew. What followed was a lively and incisive discussion covering topics including…

-The cultural relevance of Chinese Opera to American producers, performers, and audiences
-The risks of cultural appropriation and pandering to Western preconceptions when approaching cross-cultural work
-The fecundity of traditional Chinese Theatre techniques for expressing Western ideas
-Inequity and accessibility issues that shape engagement with Chinese Theatre
-The challenges faced by traditional art forms that achieve a renewed popular appeal while in trying to retain their traditional essence

This remarkable forum left us all with a great sense of gratitude for this unique production for both bringing so many different artists together in life-long friendships, and for being a model for CTW’s own cross-cultural opera production work.

This program was partially funded by the NY State Council on the Arts and NYC Department of Cultural Affairs.

Host Institutions: Chinese Theatre Works (CTW),Chinese Oral and Performing Literature (CHINOPERL)

Moderator: Richard Chang

Panelist: Teviot Fairservis, Jano Fairservis, David Simons, Timothy Dolan, Peter Kisiluk, Mark Solomon, Kuang-Yu Fong