Tibetan theatre

Tibetan theatre
Tibetan theatre features China’s oldest ethnic drama style, arising independently of Chinese theatre in the fifteenth century, as well as the quasi-dramatic temple dances and other forms. Tibetan drama integrates singing, dialogue, dance, acrobatics, mime and colourful costumes. The musical accompaniment consists only of drum, cymbal and chorus. Both Tibetan drama and temple dance feature masks designating character. There are three sections to a Tibetan drama: a masked dance forming the prologue, the drama itself, and a farewell blessing. Content concerns Tibetan history and mythology, and a few are based on Indian literary works. Characterization is stark, with positive and negative features clearly shown.
Tibetan dramas are performed during the day under special tents, with the audience all around the performance area, with only a narrow passage for the actors to enter or exit.
Chinese authorities established the professional Tibet Drama Troupe of Tibet in 1960, but during the Cultural Revolution only propaganda themes based on Han Chinese revolutionary stories were allowed. In the period of reform, the traditional theatre has revived strongly. Although dramas with modern content are still found, Tibetans find them boring and greatly prefer the traditional. In 1997 a Tibetan cultural official gave a figure of 150 professional and folk performing arts troupes for the Tibet Autonomous Region. Of these about half are folk drama troupes. Performances are still very common on festival days and enthusiastically patronized by ordinary Tibetans, who appear to regard their theatre as a symbol of their identity. Although there are also performances in modern theatres, most take place under the traditional tent or in any open space.
Mackerras, C (1999). ‘Tradition and Modernity in the Performing Arts of the Tibetans’. International Journal of Social Economics 26.1, 2, 3:58–78.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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