In his new book Chinese Shakespeares: Two Centuries of Cultural Exchange, Alexander Huang examines “the transnational imaginary of China in Shakespearean performance and Shakespeare’s place in Chinese cultural history from the first Opium War in 1839 to our times.”
Huang describes a variety of dramatic and cinematic productions in China to reveal the various political and cultural meanings that Shakespeare has yielded in an Asian context, including issues of colonialism, Asian identity, nationalism, and communism. Thus, a 1942 production of Hamlet set in a Confucian temple was an allegory for China’s war with Japan while a 1997 production of King Lear “used allegory to reconfigure Shakespeare and Asian identity multinationally.”
So how does Shakespeare sound in Mandarin? The Web site Shakespeare Performance in Asia includes clips from a variety of Mandarin productions of Shakespeare including Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, and The Tempest.