Lin Zhaohua


Lin Zhaohua
b. 1 July 1936, Tianjin
Theatre director (Huaju and Xiqu)
Lin Zhaohua is renowned for his pioneering experimental work in Huaju (spoken drama). Vice President of the prestigious Beijing People’s Art Theatre (BPAT) from 1984 until 1998, Lin remains a major artistic voice. He was a leading figure in the ‘exploration’ theatre movement in the 1980s, introducing a variety of non-illusionistic styles and techniques in defiance of socialist realism, the established rule for Huaju. Lin’s experimental productions of Gao Xingjian’s Absolute Signal, Bus Stop, and Wild Man and of Liu Jingyun’s Second Uncle Doggie’s Nirvana earned him national acclaim. Lin’s production of Absolute Signal was staged in a small rehearsal room at BPAT in 1982 and initiated the Little Theatre movement of the post-Mao era. In 1989, Lin established one of the earliest independent theatre groups, popularly called the ‘Lin Zhaohua Studio’.
Over a distinguished thirty-year career, Lin has directed an extraordinary body of work covering a broad range of styles, from naturalism to the avantgarde: Guo Shixing’s three plays, Bird Man, Chess Man and Fish Man, and a famed revival of Lao She’s Teahouse. His avant-garde work, continuing to spark controversy, includes Orphan of China, Hamlet, Emperor Romulus, Faust, Chess Man, Three Sisters, Waiting for Godot and Richard III, with his most frequent collaborator the stage designer Yi Liming. Lin’s eclectic approach encompasses a mix of realistic and anti-illusionistic techniques: the aesthetics of Xiqu (sung drama/opera) and other indigenous performance forms; anti-realistic Western techniques, expressionism, symbolism, and Theatre of the Absurd; non-naturalistic acting and staging; new dynamics in the actor-audience relationship; a synthesis of the real and abstract.
In addition to spoken drama, Lin has also directed traditional Xiqu, such as Jingju (Peking opera) and Huiju (the ancestor of Jingju; see Huju). Like his spoken-drama works, these works carried an experimental character. His Jingju works include: Shanhua, Turandot, The Hunchback Prime-Minister, Parts I-VI (Zaixiang Liuluoguo, 1–6) and Huiju hujia shibapai. Among these, the six parts of The Hunchback Prime-Minister were well received both at the box office and in art circles, and as a result have been staged every year since 2000 during the Chinese New Year Festival.
Lin, Kehuan (ed.) (1992). Lin Zhaohua daoyan yishu [Lin Zhaohua’s Art of Direction]. Harbin: Northern Literature Arts Press.
BETTINA S. ENTELL

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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