Transnationalism, translation and theatre: Gao Xingjian's plays

  • Tue 10 Oct 17

    17:00 - 18:30

  • Colchester Campus


  • Event speaker

    Dr Mary Mazzilli

  • Event type

    Lectures, talks and seminars

  • Event organiser

    Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, Department of

  • Contact details

    Dr Mary Mazzilli

Since settling in France, Chinese-born playwright, director, novelist, painter and Nobel- prize winner, Gao Xingjian has written in both Chinese and French, sometimes with the help of translators and sometimes without, sometimes first writing in Chinese and sometimes first writing in French.

With the growing presence of transnational writers writing in a second language, or in Gao’s case in two languages it becomes imperative to ask questions of translation. This seminar will aim to explore the process of linguistic and cultural assimilation and alienation as embedded in the writing/translation, questioning whether the texts produced in both languages are the product and extension of cultural fluidity, which is part of these authors’ – in this case Gao- transnational artistic nature.

Equating transnationalism and writing/translation processes not only will help unveil the volatile nature of cultural and linguistic identity but also discard the binary between East and West. I chose to focus mainly on Gao’s theatre work - in particular one play Shensijie/Au borde de la vie/ Between Life and Death – because in theatre there is another level of translation, one of adaptation for the stage where the written words need to be considered in their performative function.

Speaker's biography

Mary is a Lecturer in Drama and Literature at the University of Essex. Before joining Essex in 2016, Mary was a Lecturer in Theatre Theory and Contemporary Practice at Goldsmiths in the Theatre and Performance Department (2015-2016). In 2012-2014, she was a post-doctoral fellow at Nanyang Technological University - Singapore in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. For several years, she has been a Research Associate at Soas, University of London where she lectured in Chinese Theatre and Cinema.

In addition to theatre, she has a strong expertise in Literature (World, Comparative Literature, Comparative Literature and Women’s writing). Her monograph Gao Xingjian’s Post-Exile Plays: Transnationalism and Postdramatic Theatre, published with Bloomsbury Methuen Drama, has attracted excellent reviews. As a playwright, her plays have been widely staged in both UK (Southwark Playhouse, Old Red Lion etc.) and China.

Post-seminar reception

The seminar will be followed by drinks in the Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies Common Room (5NW.6.1) from 18:30.

Related events