Negotiating new terrains: Yellow earth theatre's Lear's Daughters and King Lear

Lia Wen-Ching Liang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


This article discusses two productions, Lear's Daughters (2003) and King Lear (2006), both by the London-based Yellow Earth Theatre (YET). YET has become known for its innovative use of media as well as creative fusion of different cultural elements. The author first considers how, in Lear's Daughters, director David Ka-Shing Tse created extra-textual layers that helped to forge links between the story of Lear and British Chinese communities. Narrating stories about Lear's three daughters from an unconventional perspective, YET's production explored issues of intergenerational miscommunication and domestic conflicts in a patriarchal family. In this way, Tse created new dimensions that highlighted the contemporary relevance of this 1980s feminist play. The second part of this article focuses on King Lear, YET's first Shakespeare production premiered in China. Set in a cosmopolitan Shanghai in 2020, this bilingual production showcased a wide array of cultural references from diverse sources, signifying the competing forces that underline China's current social changes. Specifically, the author focuses on an important aspect in YET's new adaptation - namely, the transformation of the story from the division of a political kingdom to the disintegration of a modern business empire. There was therefore an effort to downplay the political connotations associated with the original play, which consequentially helped to allow the resettling of this seventeenth-century tragedy in the context of contemporary China in the form of a story about domestic struggles and corporate wars.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-297
Number of pages9
JournalContemporary Theatre Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009 Aug
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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