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Re-inventing G.B. Shaw’s Pygmalion in a Postcolonial Setting

Linda Wong
Hong Kong Baptist University

This essay examines Rupert Chan’s Cantonese-language adaptation of G. B. Shaw’s Pygmalion, staged in 1997 in Hong Kong. The redefinition and adaptation of this play in a Hong Kong context implies a postcolonial dimension and negotiates between feminist poetics and political re-orientation. Issues of language, characterization, and the colonial setting are crucial to this study, as they point to nostalgic and lyrical feelings toward the old Hong Kong from a postcolonial point of view, lending a different cultural outlook to the classic story. Most importantly, the protagonist in Chan’s interpretation rereads and reinvents herself in a colonial manner, thus revealing a different way of understanding gendered politics. In a display of postcolonial temperament, the woman in the Chinese production symbolizes Hong Kong, which offers a romanticized and historicized image. However, this presentation reflects a concern that is more deeply feminist than romantically sentimental.

Post colonialism, adaptation, translation, localization, transformation, China, Hong Kong, Shaw, theatre, playwriting



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