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Rise of Experimental Drama: Rhinoceros in Love


Western drama was first introduced into China after May Fourth Movement. Since the liberation in 1949 modern Chinese drama had been in the decline or even silenced. As China opened itself to the outside world in the 1980s, trends of western dramatic thinking were introduced to the country. And experimental drama (or, pioneer drama) emerged, with Meng Jinghui as the most distinguished representative of the period.

 The experiment started with formal innovation and then extended to subject matter. This brought about an unprecedented change in modern Chinese drama by diversifying the simplistic performing mode. In form, modern drama became more prosaic and narrative. Time and space in drama switched and overlapped freely. Symbolism, metaphors and absurd metamorphosis were employed widely. The characters' inner world was presented on the stage. In subject matter, experimental drama showed concern about humanity and the value and significance of life.

New dramaRhinoceros in Love, directed by Meng Jinghui and staged in 1999, features singing, satire, a drooping clock-shaped card table, a huge eye, a famous guitar-playing, love-song-crooning actor, and the next, Audrey Hepburn jumping rope while she rejects a man1s honest, stubborn, no-holds barred love at the end of the world.

Rhinoceros in Lovewas quite a hit, it not only returned the investor's capital, but brought a respectable profit. Its success shows that the experimental drama can also melt into the mainstream of commercial business, such as popular movies.

Meng Jinghui is breaking a decades-old tradition. In a very real sense, Meng Jinghui and his talented, artistically uncompromising collaborators are reinventing modern Chinese drama. Just like Meng pointed out: the function of Pioneer is to waken the mass not to present a false picture of peace and prosperity.

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