Zhang Xian


Zhang Xian
b. 1955, Shanghai
Playwright, screenwriter
Born in Shanghai to cadre parents, Zhang Xian spent a decade in Yunnan during the Cultural Revolution from the age of fifteen. Upon his return, he entered the Shanghai Theatre Academy, but was expelled after two years for political reasons. Never attached to an official work unit, Zhang works independently, scripting experimental dramas while earning income from more conventional scripts for television and film. His play Owl in the House (Wuli de maotouyin, 1986) broke new ground at the Nanjing Little Theatre Festival in 1989. An independent revival of the work in Shanghai was thwarted by local officials in the summer of 2000.
After a stay in the USA sponsored by the Asian Cultural Council in 2000, Zhang became artistic director of the Hard Han Café, Shanghai’s first café-theatre. Notable works include Fashion Street (Shizhuang jie, 1987), The Wife from America (Meiguo lai de qizi, 1993), The Margin Upstairs (Loushang de majin, 1994), Crowded (Yongji, 1994), Mother Tongue (Muyü, 1996), Men and a Jar (Wantanzhe shuo, 1996) and Back Room (Baofang, 2002). Zhang’s career and body of work reflect the artistic dilemma of producing experimental drama with social commentary while also prospering in a decentralizing market economy driven by popular mainstream consumer preferences. Zhang Xian is married to writer Tang Ying; they returned to Shanghai from Singapore in 2002.
See also: Little Theatre
Kaye, L. (1994). ‘Shanghai Fables’. Far Eastern Economic Review (14 April): 50–1.
CLAIRE CONCEISON

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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