Voices Carry: Behind Bars and Backstage during China's Revolution and Reform

Voices Carry: Behind Bars and Backstage during China's Revolution and Reform

4.8 5
by Ying Ruocheng, Claire Conceison
     
 

ISBN-10: 0742555550

ISBN-13: 9780742555556

Pub. Date: 10/17/2008

Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

Voices Carry is the moving autobiography of the late Ying Ruocheng, beloved Chinese stage and screen actor, theatre director, translator, and high-ranking politician as vice minister of culture from 1986–1990. One of twentieth-century China's most prominent citizens, Ying was imprisoned during the Cultural Revolution and devised unique strategies for survival,…  See more details below

Overview

Voices Carry is the moving autobiography of the late Ying Ruocheng, beloved Chinese stage and screen actor, theatre director, translator, and high-ranking politician as vice minister of culture from 1986–1990. One of twentieth-century China's most prominent citizens, Ying was imprisoned during the Cultural Revolution and devised unique strategies for survival, including playing pranks on guards and keeping a clandestine notebook. Ying's memoir opens with his prison years, and then flashes back to his boyhood growing up in a prince's palace as a member of a progressive Manchu Catholic intellectual family. He also details his experiences as a university student during the heady days when the People's Republic was being founded, followed by his subsequent experiences on stage, in film, and in politics.

A founding member of the Beijing People's Art Theatre, Ying Ruocheng helped open its doors to Sino-American exchange when he brought Arthur Miller to China to stage Death of a Salesman in 1983, playing the role of Willy Loman in his own translation of the play. Simultaneously a "spy" for his own government and a cultural ambassador for countless foreigners and fellow countrymen, Ying lived out his life as a bridge between China and the West, gaining a singular perspective on matters related to culture and politics.

While suffering from cirrhosis of the liver during the final decade of his life, Ying Ruocheng reflected on his experiences, collaborating with coauthor Claire Conceison to tell his story. Together, they take the reader on an exhilarating journey from Manchu wrestling matches to missionary schools, from behind prison bars to behind the scenes at ground-breaking stage performances, and from public moments of international recognition to private moments of intimacy and despair.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780742555556
Publisher:
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
10/17/2008
Series:
Asian Voices Series
Pages:
286
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)

Table of Contents

Introduction
Part I: The Adventures of Prison Life
Chapter 1: My First Year Behind Bars
Chapter 2: The Prison at Jixian
Part II: Family History and Early Education
Chapter 3: The Ying Legacy
Chapter 4: A Princely Childhood
Part III: Professional Life in Arts and Politics
Chapter 5: My Stage Career
Chapter 6: Cultural Diplomacy
Epilogue

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Voices Carry: Behind Bars and Backstage during China's Revolution and Reform 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Britishlizard More than 1 year ago
This book was a stunning collaboration between Ying Ruo Chung and Dr. Claire Conceision. Right from the beginning I felt as though I was part of some inside secret life of a Chinese citizen. Dr. Conceison did an excellent job of capturing Ying's dynamic, witty, and often mischevious character in such a way that I felt as though I was sitting in the room with Ying having a one-on-one conversation. In terms of the historical content, I have read many other biographies and autobiographies of Chinese citizens, including "Wild Swans" and others. I felt that YRC's story was truly unique in that it touched on matters that were not always politically correct (Ying's 'spying' on foreign friends on behalf of the PRC), and it also didn't paint China in a very dark light. Oftentimes many books about China and the Cultural Revolution create a very black and white picture of who is 'good' and who is 'bad.' Ying & Claire's collaboration showed that oftentimes in periods of upheaval there are many, many shades of grey. I felt that at times there could have been more historical background on some of the events mentioned by YRC or Dr. Conceison. I personally was able to know what the movements were based on my own previous knowledge of Chinese history, but for someone new to the subject, they may be a little confused. Overall, a truly incredible read and an amazing story. I thoroughly enjoyed it and commend Dr. Conceison on remaining true to the late Ying Ruo Cheng's wishes for the book. The manner in which the story was told, starting with Ying's time in prison, and then jumping forward and backward through history in order to be able to tell a complete story was, I felt, very representative of the way an oral history is told. When conversing and telling stories, our logic never flows in straight lines, but rather the mention of one memories causes the recollection of another memory in a completey different circumstance. I am not sure if that was the intent of the authors, but I really thought it was unique in terms of the multitude of biographies I have read. I hope to see more from Dr. Conceison in the future. My only regret is that Ying Ruo Cheng isn't alive to hear his story told--that an the fact that I regret I never had the chance to meet him. Though as a result of this book, I do feel that I know him, and that he and I are old friends.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Conceison's self-termed "collaborative autobiograohy" of Ying Ruocheng is a must read for anyone interested in theatre history, film history, biographies, Chinese history, twentieth century politics, Dengist reforms... (and the list goes on). Aside from being a painstakingly researched and beautifully composed narrative, Conceison's book is especially wonderful for its intimate yet humble look at the incredible life and achievements of Ying. As an avid reader and scholar, I find that nothing is more exciting than to find a book written by an author as passionate as Conceison is about her chosen subject. I picked up the book before the holidays, casually cracked it open on a flight to Asia, and found that I had devoured it cover-to-cover on my flight. If you have any plans to visit China in the near future, or are simply interested in the complex and fascinating twists and turns of post-Qing Dynasty China--this book is for you. Fingers crossed that Conceison will be invited for public book talks in the near future!
mdevaney More than 1 year ago
A great book! A wonderful way to experience history through the remarkable life of an intellectual and artistic Chinese man and his family. Ying Ruocheng contributes so much to China and the world as history plays out in his native country. This is one "autobiography" that reads like a novel. The double meaning of Voices Carry is so clever, as well. One can only imagine the trepedation with which Chinese have dared to balance experience with the danger of living under changing regimes. Ying's message permeates and lingers long after you read his story. Conceison manages to support (without interrupting) Ying's voice with historical notes that do not intrude. The Ying legacy is worth the read. Hope they make it a movie!
AKang2 More than 1 year ago
This book is an incredibly interesting non-fiction that reads like a narrative. Professor Conceison does a fantastic job of presenting Ying Ruocheng's voice while weaving in her own extensive research and knowledge, on theater's role in China's political and cultural history during Ying's lifetime, in both the introduction and end-notes. The collaborative autobiography was easy and exciting to read, informative, and left me wanting to learn more about this very special man and the legacy he leaves us.
AKang More than 1 year ago
This book is an incredibly interesting non-fiction that reads like a narrative. Professor Conceison does a fantastic job of presenting Ying Ruocheng's voice while weaving in her own extensive research and knowledge, on theater's role in China's political and cultural history during Ying's lifetime, in both the introduction and end-notes. The collaborative autobiography was easy and exciting to read, informative, and left me wanting to learn more about this very special man and the legacy he leaves us.