Navigating between Shakespeare and Jingju: Wu Hsing-Kuo's Li Er Zaici

Lia Wen Ching Liang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This article discusses Li Er Zaici, a performance created by Taiwanese actor Wu Hsing-Kuo, the artistic director of the Contemporary Legend Theatre. In this production Wu performs ten characters from Shakespeare's King Lear in three acts, drawing on performing styles and techniques from the jingju (Peking Opera) tradition. This internationally touring production offers an example of the dilemmas encountered by many intercultural theatre performances that explore the possibilities of mingling different cultural elements. Several scholars have discussed the personal dimension of this production, suggesting that it can be seen as the artists attempt to reconcile with his mentor, who severed their relationship because of Wu's desire to step out of the confines of the tradition. Drawing on concepts proposed by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, which raise questions about taken-for-granted assumptions about onstage performance and cultural representation, this paper calls for a reconsideration of the presumed link between jingju and Chinese cultural identity. I argue that, reflective of the affliction brought upon by the modern situation, Wu's response was more a complication than a straightforward answer. From this perspective, Wu's rendition produces deterritorialisations of both the traditional confines of jingju and the staging history of King Lear, and opens up new possibilities in both fields.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-149
Number of pages19
JournalTamkang Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Dec
Externally publishedYes


  • Assemblage
  • Contemporary Legend Theatre
  • Deleuze and Guattari
  • Intercultural theatre
  • King Lear
  • Shakespeare

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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