The Bible on Stage: Chinese Catholic Dramas of the Early 20th Century

John T. P. LAI, Associate Professor in Religious Studies, Chinese University of Hong Kong

Monday, November 14, 12:00 noon, in Moore Hall 109

Abstract: In the aftermath of the collapse of the Qing regime in 1911, a corpus of dramatic texts, chiefly rewritings of biblical stories, was published by the Catholic presses in China during the Republican era (1912-49). Some biblical tales were creatively represented in a variety of dramatic genres, including traditional Chinese opera, folk performing arts and modern spoken drama. These performative texts were periodically put on stage in Catholic churches, schools, and orphanages during religious festivals and celebrations. This talk examines the contexts and ways in which the biblical narratives were transformed into Chinese dramas, and the religious functions these dramatic works performed.

John T. P. Lai is an Associate Professor in the Department of Cultural and Religious Studies, Chinese University of Hong Kong. His research interests focus on the Chinese Christian literature of the late imperial and Republican periods. He has published three monographs: Negotiating Religious Gaps: The Enterprise of Translating Christian Tracts by Protestant Missionaries in Nineteenth-Century China (2012), The Afterlife of a Classic: A Critical Study of the Late-Qing Chinese Translations of The Pilgrim’s Progress (in Chinese) (2012), Attuning the Gospel: Chinese Christian Novels of the Late Qing Period (in Chinese) (2017).

CCS Seminar: “The Bible on Stage: Chinese Catholic Dramas of the Early 20th Century”