Mei Lan-fang came from a famous actor family -the profession is often hereditary in China-and this story of his life is drawn mainly from his own reminiscences and from conversations with the author. He was a national figure whose name was a household word for more than forty years; even in Europe, Japan, Russia and America he was widely known and admired. He was instrumental in opening the eyes of men like Stanislavsky, Eisenstein and Brecht to new dimensions of theatrical expression. No other Chinese actor attained and retained the unique position held by Mei Lan-fang. In foreign eyes it is unique in another sense for Mei made his reputation playing the women's roles of the Chinese classical repertoire, somewhat in the tradition of the Elizabethan theatre in the West. This biographical sketch remains the solitary account in English of China's most famous actor.
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