Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 1, No. 11 June 15, 1938
The new theatre has been very greatly affected by political unrest and agitation. The early period. 1906-1916, was marked by dearth of native plays and no progress was made till 1919, when activity was at fever pitch to rouse patriotism against the Japanese.
Another period was ushered in when Chinese students returned home from abroad, but the plays were too scholarly and smacked of Westernism, thus making the productions for the most part unintelligible for the masses. The fourth period, which is still in progress is characterised by attempt to appeal to the people and many proletarian plays are presented—the radical nature of the literature being greatly influenced by the "May 30th incident" (when British police fired on students and workmen).
In the early days, plays often had no texts. The leading man assembled his cast, talked over the main bones of the plot and walked on to the stage. If an actor tailed to turn up, any man handy was crabbed, made up and forced to take the role—of course. If an important actor was late, the rest would improvise for half an hour, or till he turned up.
Most modern Chinese plays lack feeling and conviction,' plot and characterisation, and the public much prefer translation of Western dramas, adopted to suit Chinese characters and customs.
Tuen Han is one of the most gifted and prolific writers connected with the new movement today. His early plays were characterised by very little plot and poetic dialogue, but after coming into contact with students of Shanghai, he produced plays dealing with social questions of proletariat and anti-imperialist nature. Other notable writers are Hung Shu and Wong Quincey.