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Dead medium: the Chiu-mou-ti Hsing-wu-t'ai
From: (Bruce Sterling)

Source(s): Source: SHANGHAI: CRUCIBLE OF MODERN CHINA by Betty Peh-T'i Wei Oxford University Press, 1987
ISBN 0-19-583831-9

pages 139-140

"After 1911, theatres became known as *wu'tai* (stage), when raised platforms were introduced. In addition to traditional operas, there were acrobatic performances, magicians from China and abroad, puppets and, in time, Western-style plays. It was difficult to take away from the audience their considered birthright of talking, eating, and blowing whistles during the performance.

"In the 1920s, an enterprising impressario built the Chiu-mou-ti Hsing-wu-t'ai (New Theatre on Nine *Mou* of Land), offering a combination of live actors and motion pictures. Complicated scenery such as mountains, rivers, moving trains, and steamships were shown on a screen, sometimes with actors performing in front of it. Indoor scenery, such as tables and chairs, would be placed on stage as props. Each play would consist of five or six scenes, alternating screen and stage actions. The format was quite popular until it was discovered that once an actor's face was shown on the screen, the audience would not accept a different actor in the same role on stage. As a result, the format was not copied by other theatres in Shanghai."

(((bruces remarks: this is a charming example of cross- cultural multimedia hybridization. The Chiu-mou-ti Hsing-wu-t'ai is just one particularly exotic version of many, many efforts to somehow turn plays into films ("photoplays") or to use projected screen techniques as theatrical special effects (Pepper's Ghost, Riviere's Theatre d'Ombres, the Prague Laterna Magika, etc.)))