2008 Honorary Doctorate
Professor Xu Xiaozhong is one of the most prominent and respected theatre directors and educators in China. He began to take a passionate interest in the theatre when he was a high school student. He started his study for theatre in 1948 at the Drama School in Nanjing, one of the few professional drama training schools then in China, and carried on his study at the Central Academy of Drama in 1950 where he later became a young teacher. In 1955, he was sent by the government to study drama at the Lunacharsky State Drama Institute in Moscow for five years.
After Professor Xu Xiaozhong returned to China in 1960, he continued to work at the Central Academy of Drama. He taught in the Directing Department where he later became the Head. Under his academic leadership, he established the directing teaching system which remains the most successful programme in China. He directed Shakespeare’s Macbeth in 1980 and Ibsen’s Peer Gynt in 1983, both were recognised as great achievement in China’s theatre. Under the direction of Xu Xiaozhong, Anecdotes of Sangshuping became another milestone theatre work in which his compatible approach added a rich form and deep connotations to this play.
From 1983 to 1999, Professor Xu Xiaozhong was the President of the Central Academy of Drama for 16 years, while he never stopped his teaching work. Being a professor, he is now supervising PhD students for the Academy. During the years he has been serving in the Central Academy of Drama, many of his students have become the most active and successful directors who have made significant theater works in China, in addition, many graduates from the Academy have become stars known to all.
Professor Xu Xiaozhong was reputed as an artist epitomizing the drama of the new era because of his pioneering efforts on the stage. He won a number of awards from his directing work. He came to direct twice for the Hong Kong Repertory Theatre, and conducted master classes for the School of Drama in the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. The Academy now awards the Honorary Doctorate to this great master, in order to acknowledge his life-long devotion and outstanding contribution to China’s theatre and theatre education.