SOAS University of London

China & Inner Asia Section, Department of East Asian Languages & Cultures

Dr Rossella Ferrari

BA (Venice), MA, PhD (London)
  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Expertise
  • Publications


Rossella Ferrari
China & Inner Asia Section, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures

Reader in Chinese and Theatre Studies

Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures

Learning & Teaching Coordinator

SOAS China Institute

Academic Staff, SOAS China Institute

Centre for Creative Industries, Media and Screen Studies


Dr Rossella Ferrari
Email address:
+44(0) 20 7898 4047
SOAS University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
Russell Square: College Buildings
Office No:
Academic Support Hours:
Thursdays 10.30-11.30am - see biography to book


To book a slot to see me for office hours, please go to


Programmes Convened
Modules Taught
PhD Students supervised
  • Angela Kim, Topography of Contemporary Korean Diasporic Female Theatre Since 1990s: Trauma, Body and Motherhood
  • Federica Gamberini, [working title] The Idea of Beauty. Subjectivity, writing and aesthetic experience in Contemporary Chinese literature
  • Ke Meng, Working title: Soliloquy in Late Imperial Chinese Chuanqi Drama
  • Tom Cunliffe, Lung Kong and Hong Kong Film History 1966-1979
  • Yunzi Han, Representing Sexual Politics of Marriage on Screen in Walled Societies: A Comparative Study of Cinema of Iran and China since the Late 1990s


My primary interests lie in Sinophone performance cultures, contemporary interactions between the theatres of the Chinese-speaking region (China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore), and the politics of performance in East Asia.

I have worked on theories and practices of the avant-garde in mainland Chinese theatre of the post-Mao era, particularly in relation to the work of leading Chinese director, playwright, and filmmaker Meng Jinghui, with whom I have had the privilege of collaborating back in the days of my PhD fieldwork and one-year enrolment at the Central Academy of Drama in Beijing. In my book, Pop Goes the Avant-garde: Experimental Theatre in Contemporary China (2012), I have proposed the notion of “pop avant-garde” to comprehend the aesthetic and power relationships between performance, politics, and economics in postsocialist China. I have also looked at strategies of adaptation of foreign texts and methods, and processes of intercultural exchange between Chinese and foreign performance cultures.

I have conducted extensive research on the seminal work of the Hong Kong transmedial arts collective, Zuni Icosahedron, which has led me to explore connections across regions, disciplines, and media (for example, intermedial intersections between theatre and film, video, architecture, and the visual arts) through the relational prisms of rhizomes and radicants. In relation to Zuni’s practice, I have also published about contemporary experiments with canonical texts, such as Peony Pavilion, and indigenous genres of xiqu (“Chinese opera”), as well as other heritage theatres in Asia. I have formulated the notion of “Asian theatre as method”, which draws on Asia- (or trans-East Asia) focused methodologies to investigate the role of transversal cultural relations, relational comparisons, and transnational alliances in informal processes of regional reconciliation and people-based diplomacies through the performing arts, in addition to the destabilization of West-centred epistemologies in intercultural and comparative theatre scholarship.

I am in the process of completing a new monograph, Transnational Chinese Theatres: Intercultural Performance Networks in East Asia, which examines the formation of transnational performance networks in the wider Sinophone region and across East Asia, or “trans-Asian theatres”. The project investigates practices of intercultural and inter-Asian collaboration to scrutinize how theatre makers have tackled complex regional issues such as disputed historical legacies and sociopolitical conflict collectively and comparatively.

Currently, I am working on a case study of emergent theatrical connections between China and Latin America, and thinking through the idea of what I have been calling “Xiqu 2.0”, namely, how indigenous Chinese theatres interact with new techniques and technologies. I remain deeply invested in new approaches to playwriting, directing and theatre making in mainland China, and I welcome potential PhD students in any of these subjects.

I am also interested in Chinese-language cinemas and in questions of historical memory as articulated in cultural and artistic production, and I teach modules in these areas at both undergraduate and postgraduate level at SOAS.

I am the Regional Managing Editor (China) of The Theatre Times



For help in contacting SOAS academics and advice on services to business and the community, please contact SOAS Enterprise on +44(0)20 7898 4837 or email
For all press and media enquiries please call +44 (0)20 7898 4135 or email

Available for
  • TV
  • Radio
  • Press
  • Briefings
  • Special Study Programmes
  • Short Term Consultancy
Regional Expertise
  • East Asia
Country Expertise
  • China
  • Italian


Authored Books

Ferrari, Rossella (2020) Transnational Chinese Theatres: Intercultural Performance Networks in East Asia. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Ferrari, Rossella (2012) Pop Goes The Avant-Garde: Experimental Theatre in Contemporary China. London: Seagull Books.

Ferrari, Rossella (2004) Da Madre Courage e i suoi figli a Jiang Qing e i suoi mariti. Percorsi brechtiani in Cina. [From Mother Courage and her Children to Jiang Qing and her Husbands. Brechtian Trajectories in China]. Venice: Cafoscarina.


Ferrari, Rossella (2020) 'On the Pluriversality of the Avant-Garde---A Response to "The Future of Avant-Garde Studies: A European Roundtable"'. Journal of Avant-Garde Studies, (1) 1. [Forthcoming]

Ferrari, Rossella (2017) 'Asian Theatre as Method: The Toki Experimental Project and Sino-Japanese Transnationalism in Performance'. TDR: The Drama Review, (61) 3, pp 141-164.

Ferrari, Rossella (2015) '"Zhongguo jianzhu yi bai nian": weishenme xin shiji women yi wu suo you 「中國建築一百年」︰為什麼新世紀我們一無所有 [Online]'. Initium Media 端傳媒.

Ferrari, Rossella (2013) 'Notes on the (Pop) Avant-Garde in China [Online]'. Berfrois.

Ferrari, Rossella (2013) 'Kua guo/kua meiti/kua wenben: dazhonghua diqu cong yinmu dao wutai de kuajie chuangzuo 跨国/跨媒体/跨文本 :大中華地區從銀幕到舞台的跨界創作'. 文化視野 / Cultural Vision 2, pp 130-142.

Ferrari, Rossella (2012) 'Architecture and/in Theatre from the Bauhaus to Hong Kong: Mathias Woo's 'Looking for Mies''. New Theatre Quarterly, (28) 1, pp 3-19.

Ferrari, Rossella (2012) 'The Avant-Garde is Dead, Long Live the (Pop) Avant-Garde! Critical Reconfigurations in Contemporary Chinese Theatre'. positions: asia critique, (20) 4, pp 1127-1157.

Ferrari, Rossella (2011) 'Disenchanted Presents, Haunted Pasts, and Dystopian Futures: Deferred Millennialism in the Cinema of Meng Jinghui'. Journal of Contemporary China, (20) 71, pp 699-721.

Ferrari, Rossella (2011) 'The Stage as a Drawing Board: Zuni Icosahedron’s Architecture Is Art Festival'. TDR: The Drama Review, (55) 1, pp 137-148.

Ferrari, Rossella (2010) 'Journey(s) to the East—-Travels, Trajectories, and Transnational Chinese Theatre(s)'. Postcolonial Studies, (13) 4, pp 351-366.

Ferrari, Rossella (2008) 'Transnation/transmedia/transtext: border-crossing from screen to stage in Greater China'. Journal of Chinese Cinemas, (2) 1, pp 53-65.

Ferrari, Rossella (2008) 'Dalla Repubblica Popolare alla repubblica pop'. Hystrio. Trimestrale di teatro e spettacolo, (21) 3, pp 56-59.

Ferrari, Rossella (2005) 'Anarchy in the PRC: Meng Jinghui and his Adaptation of Dario Fo's Accidental Death of an Anarchist'. Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, (17) 2, pp 1-48.

Ferrari, Rossella (2001) 'Verso una nuova concezione teatrale: Huang Zuolin e la xieyi xijuguan. [Towards a New Theatrical Conception: Huang Zuolin and his xieyi xijuguan]'. Asiatica Venetiana, (6-7) 2001-2002, pp 111-138.

Book Chapters

Ferrari, Rossella (2019) 'Asian Theatricalities in the Transpacific: The Hispanophone Transculturation of Nick Rongjun Yu’s The Crowd or, Performing the Chinese Cultural Revolution in Peru'. In: de Kloet, Jeroen and Chow, Yiu Fai and Pak Lei Chong, Gladys, (eds.), Trans-Asia as Method: Theory and Practices. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, pp 115-139.

Ferrari, Rossella (2016) 'Contemporary Experimental Theaters in the PRC, Taiwan, and Hong Kong'. In: Denton, Kirk A., (ed.), The Columbia Companion to Modern Chinese Literature. New York: Columbia University Press.

Ferrari, Rossella (2016) 'Performing Poetry on the Intermedial Stage: Flowers in the Mirror, Moon on the Water, and Beijing Avant-Garde Theatre in the New Millennium'. In: Li, Ruru, (ed.), Staging China: New Theatres in the Twenty-First Century. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp 123-140.

Ferrari, Rossella (2014) 'Tang Our Contemporary: Twenty-First Century Adaptations of Peony Pavilion'. In: Santangelo, Paolo and Tan, Tian Yuan, (eds.), Passion, Romance, and Qing: The World of Emotions and States of Mind in Peony Pavilion (3 vols.). Leiden: Brill, pp 1482-1522.

Ferrari, Rossella (2011) 'Beckett’s Chinese Progeny: Absurdity, Waiting, and the Godot Motif in Contemporary China'. In: Maufort, Marc and Figueira, Dorothy, (eds.), Theatres in the Round: Multi-ethnic, Indigenous, and Intertextual Dialogues in Drama. Bruxelles, Bern, Berlin, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Oxford, Wien: Peter Lang, pp 133-159.

Ferrari, Rossella (2007) '“Avant-garde Drama and Theater: China”'. In: Cody, Gabrielle and Sprinchorn, Evert, (eds.), The Columbia Encyclopaedia of Modern Drama. New York: Columbia University Press.

Ferrari, Rossella (2006) '"Gao Xingjian"'. In: Wintle, Justin, (ed.), New Makers of Modern Culture. London & New York: Routledge.

Ferrari, Rossella (2005) 'Il selvaggio di Gao Xingjian: nativismo o modernismo? [Gao Xingjian's Wild Man: Nativism or Modernism?]'. In: Scarpari, M. and Lippiello, T., (eds.), Caro Maestro... Scritti in onore di Lionello Lanciotti per l'ottantesimo compleanno.. Venice: Cafoscarina, pp 533-545.

Book Reviews

Ferrari, Rossella (2019) 'Review of Tuan, Iris H., and Ivy I-Chu Chang, eds. "Transnational Performance, Identity and Mobility in Asia" (Singapore: Palgrave Pivot, 2018)'. Theatre Research International, (44) 3, pp 326-327.

Ferrari, Rossella (2017) 'Review of "The Theatre of David Henry Hwang" by Esther Kim Lee. London: Bloomsbury Methuen Drama, 2015'. Theatre Research International, (42) 1, pp 109-110.

Ferrari, Rossella (2015) 'Review of "The Avant-Garde and the Popular in Modern China: Tian Han and the Intersection of Performance and Politics" by Liang Luo'. MCLC Resource Center.

Ferrari, Rossella (2009) 'Review of "Origins of the Chinese Avant-Garde: The Modern Woodcut Movement" by Xiaobing Tang'. China Review International, (16) 2, pp 271-275.

Ferrari, Rossella (2009) 'Review of "Children of Marx and Coca Cola: Chinese Avant-garde Art and Independent Cinema" by Xiaoping Lin.'. China Review International, (16) 4, pp 544-549.

Ferrari, Rossella (2008) 'Review of A History of Contemporary Chinese Literature by Hong Zicheng'. The China Quarterly 194, pp 448-449.

Ferrari, Rossella (2008) 'Review of Significant Other. Staging the American in China by Claire Conceison'. TDR The Drama Review, (52) 1, pp 204-206.

Ferrari, Rossella (2005) 'Review of Gao Xingjian and Transcultural Chinese Theater by Sy Ren Quah'. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, (68) 2, pp 333-335.


Ferrari, Rossella and Pu, Bo (2016) 'Fei xifang yujing zhong liuxing, qianwei xiju de xin lilun he fangfalun goujian—— Lundun daxue SOAS xueyuan Fei Laili nüshi fangtan 非西方语境中流行、前卫戏剧的新理论和方法论构建——伦敦大学SOAS学院费莱丽女士访谈 [Constructing new theories and methodologies for popular and avant-garde theatres in non-Western contexts: interview with Rossella Ferrari, SOAS, University of London]' Sichuan xiju 四川戏剧 [Sichuan theatre].

Ferrari, Rossella (2015) 'A Tale of Two Centuries: One Hundred Years of Chinese Architecture as a Reflection on Chinese Modernization” (English) / Liang ge shiji de duizhao: "Zhongguo jianzhu yibai nian" dui Zhongguo xiandaihua de fansi 兩個世紀的對照:「中國建築一百年」對中國現代化的反思 (Chinese) [Online]' One Hundred Years of Chinese Architecture Programme.

Ferrari, Rossella (2014) '"Tang Our Contemporary: Twenty-First Century Adaptations of Peony Pavilion": Supplementary Materials (Video Excerpts and Photo Gallery) [Online]'.


This list was last generated on Thursday, 9th July 2020, 06:35 Europe/London.