Commercialization and Chinese Traditional Theater and Storytelling in the Reform Period, 1978 to the Present
This article considers the processes of commercialisation in Chinese traditional theatre and in its traditional story-telling arts (quyi) since the late 1970s. It considers the impact of commercialization on traditional theatre troupes and on audiences, as well as on training. It devotes some space to showing the role tourism has played in China's theatre and story-telling arts over these decades. The article argues that commercialisation is becoming more important and has already had profound consequences for the theatre and story-telling arts. Some of these effects are positive, for instance the range of content is wider and freer in the era of commercialisation than it was under Mao Zedong. Training schools still produce good graduates and the traditional performing arts are in no way about to die. On the other hand, both in terms of quality and quantity the direction is currently downwards. Audiences for traditional theatre and story-telling arts are generally declining both in numbers and in expertise. Although tourists are sometimes keen to learn, the tourist market is not a specialized one and is no substitute for the traditional audience of enthusiasts.