Mei Lan-Fang

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Mei Lan-Fang


Born Oct. 23, 1894, in Peking; died there Aug. 8, 1961. Chinese actor, teacher, and theatrical and public figure.

Mei Lan-fang was the son of an actor. He studied at the Fuliench’eng Studio of the Peking Theatrical School, specializing in female roles. During the second decade of the 20th century, Mei Lan-fang created new types of plays in modern dress, such as The Lovers Meet in Prison and The Linen Bandage, and costume dramas dealing with traditional themes, such as Ch’ang O Flees to the Moon.

After the formation of the People’s Republic of China, Mei Lan-fang took an active part in theatrical and public life. In 1949 he began working at the Theater of Peking Musical Drama. He also served as a deputy to the All-China Assembly of People’s Representatives. In 1951 he became director of the research-oriented Institute for the Theater of Traditional Musical Drama (the institute was later renamed the Academy of the Theater of Traditional Musical Drama).

Mei Lan-fang’s best roles were in The Intoxication of Yang Kuei-fei, Pa-wang Parts With Yüchi, A Stroll Through the Garden and the Interrupted Dream, The Sword of the Universe, The Hungnikuan Frontier Post, and Mu Kuei-ying Leads the Troops. He visited the USSR in 1935, 1952, and 1957. He met with K. S. Stanislavsky—whose follower Mei Lan-fang was—V. I. Nemirovich-Danchenko, V. E. Meyerhold, and S. M. Eisenstein, all of whom highly valued the art of Mei Lan-fang.


Sorok let na stsene. Moscow, 1963. (Translated from Chinese.)


Mei Lan’-fan i kitaiskii teatr. Moscow-Leningrad, 1935. (Collection.)
Obraztsov, S. Teatr kitaiskogo naroda. Moscow, 1957.
Serova, S. A. Pekinskaia muzykal’naia drama. Moscow, 1970.
Mei Lan-fang wen-chi (Mei Lan-fang: Collection of Articles). Peking, 1962.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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References in periodicals archive ?
Time magazine thus characterizes the inevitable comparison between the Japanese troupe and the Chinese actor: "Any comparison must take into account the fact that Mei Lan-Fang acts the century-old, traditional drama of China, as quaint and stylized as a sketch on a box of tea, whereas the Japanese company gives examples of the Ken-Geki or sword-drama, a 10-year-old popular departure from the formal, aristocratic Kabuki and No dramas of ancient Japan." (49)
The best performing stamp in the Index is the miniature sheet "Mei Lan-Fang 3y" which depicts a famous Chinese actor.
Scott notes, "no other actor has attained and retained the unique position held by Mei Lan-fang." (17) Just as it was customary for a tourist in San Francisco to visit Chinatown, attending one of Mei Lanfang's performances was a must-do on any trip to China, on a par with a visit to the Great Wall.
Scott claims, "Mei Lan-fang's tour in America could not have come at a more psychologically apt moment.
Scott, Mei Lan-fang: Leader of the Pear Garden (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 1959), 1.
(30) George Warren, "Mei Lan-fang Delights with Dramatic Skill," San Francisco Chronicle, 24 April 1930.
In his book Mei Lan-fang: Foremost Actor of China, which was published in English just months prior to Mei's departure for the United States, George Leung recounts his appeal to foreigners: "Not only has Mr.
Chang, preface to Mei Lan-Fang in America: Reviews and Criticisms (?Tientsin, c.
Scott, Mei Lan-fang: The Life and Times of a Peking Actor (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press), 109.
(13) George Kin Leung, forward to Mei Lan-fang: Foremost Actor of China (Shanghai: Commercial Press, 1929).
(15) Leung, Mei Lan-fang: Foremost Actor of China, 43.
(29) "Mei Lan-fang Gives a New Program," New York Times, 10 March 1930, sec.