Friday, June 14, 2019

Mei Lan-fang in the book, San Francisco’s Chinatown

San Francisco’s Chinatown
Charles Caldwell Dobie
Appleton-Century Company, 1936

page 285: … To the average American the Chinese Theatre is and must ever remain a curiosity—a museum piece. There are poseurs who insist that they find it exceedingly profound and enjoyable. But do not trust them. It touches our racial consciousness at no point except when it turns acrobatic or slap-stick. Of course the performance of a Mei Lan-Fang is another matter. Genius speaks every tongue. But, remember, too, that when we see Mei Lan-Fang we see him in a Western theatre. The house lights are darkened, the aisles are free of romping children, the music is tamed. The real test of our enjoyment of the Chinese Theatre must be made with all its distractions, its incongruities, its incoherences. ...

(Next post on Friday: Tyrus Wong’s Christ Painting)

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