Department or Program

Theatre Studies

Primary Wellesley Thesis Advisor

Marta Rainer


This thesis is a comparative exploration of the different paradigms that Western and Chinese theatre-making and theatre-viewing are based on. In examining the paradigms of Western and Chinese theatre, various components of the theater-making and theatre-viewing experience are considered, including assumptions regarding what a theatrical experience should entail, expectations shared between creators and audiences, and the prevailing methodologies of theatrical creation that are used to fulfill these expectations. In executing this comparative analysis of Chinese and Western theatrical paradigms, this thesis is broken down into two main components: the first component consists of secondary research, which is used to inform the second component, a translation and performance of a Chinese theatrical text. The research component consists of—among other topics—an analysis of the poetics of each theatrical tradition, as well as an examination of cross-cultural interactions between Chinese and Western writers and theatre-makers. The translation-performance component consists of a translation from the original Chinese of He Peizhu’s 梨花梦 (Pear Blossom Dream) into English, and a series of three stagings (in English) of excerpts from the text, with each staging guided by a specific theatrical paradigm. The results of both the research and performance components of this thesis demonstrate that Western theatre is a theatrical form that is primarily occupied with action, plot and verisimilitude, whereas Chinese theatre is a theatrical model that is concerned with expression of emotion through the achievement of a stylized, harmonious aesthetic.