Christine Mok, University of Cincinnati
Is Everybody Still Kung-Fu Fighting?
This paper examines racial crossings in Young Jean Lee’s first full-length play, Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals. In collapsing the 1932 film The Mask of Fu Manchu into the dramaturgy of her play, Lee teases out the AfroAsian encounter that is a silent spectacle in film. This radical revision into performance and embodiment of cinematic form complicates the production of political meaning as citations of the film’s “historical” racism collide with the staging of racist tropes and practices from contemporary life. By examining this early work within the framework of Black/Asian intersectionalities in the US, this paper marks occluded histories that inform racial discourse and embodiment and complicate real and fictive possibilities for affinity and coalition.
Christine Mok (PhD, Brown University; MFA in Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism, Yale School of Drama) is an Assistant Professor of Drama and Performance at the University of Cincinnati. She is Director of the Helen Weinberger Center for the Study of Drama and Playwriting. She is a founding member of the theatre design collective Wingspace. Her research focuses on Asian American performance, Black/Asian intersections, and ethnic and racial formations in US visual culture and performance history. Publications include: “East West Players and After: Acting and Activism” (Theatre Survey 2016); “Memoirs of a Kisaeng: Transnational Choreographies of Becoming” (Theatre Survey 2013). She teaches on race, racism and performance; anti-realist drama; and Black/Asian theatre. Contributing to her research on racial masquerade, she has designed costumes for nine main-stage performances, including Marcus Gardley’s The Road Weeps, The Well Runs Dry (2015).