A scene from a theatrical performance

A scene from a theatrical performance

A scene from a theatrical performance, Armstrong collection, Ar02-070

This enigmatic photograph (Ar02-070) did not have a caption for it in the album owned by the Shanghai policeman William Armstrong (1867-1931, served SMP 1893-1927).  It surely depicts a scene from a theatrical performance?  Whilst the character with the fan discretely pours a drink for the soldier, who sits comfortably in a modern Western-style armchair, the gorgeously costumed performer seems to threaten to cut off his queue.

If this interpretation is about right, the photograph can be tentatively dated to the early Republic era, when queues were suddenly old fashioned.  An amusing and stylish mise en scène of old and new China.

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