In the early twentieth century, female impersonators in Japan's first Western-style theatre, shinpa (new school drama), employed gender performance conventions based on kabuki onnagata and European melodramatic techniques. Shinpa performers influenced the performance of gender in early Chinese spoken drama. Chinese student actors emulated shinpa conventions in Tokyo and popularized them in Shanghai in the 1910s, where they were accepted as being accurate enactments of modern women.

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