The Chinese Drama is an extensive study of the dramatic arts in China. It includes 115 colour lithographic plates of actor’s costumes, stage make-up, and instruments accompanied by their musical score, amongst other paraphernalia of the stage. Most images are accompanied by notes in English and Chinese, often describing the actor’s roles, stage slang and superstitions. The author, Arlington, undertook to document the history of Chinese drama ‘from the earliest times until today’, and the work explores Chinese drama up to 1930, when the book was published.
L. C. Arlington (1859– 1943) was an American who served in the Customs and Postal Administration in China from 1879 until the late 1930s. His other works include In Search of Old Peking (1935) and Famous Chinese Plays (1937). This publication concludes with thirty synopses of popular plays of the day, including Unfrocking the Emperor by Chan Huang P’ao and Sacrifices on the Long River by Chi Ch’ang Chiang.