Asian Theatre Journal, vol. 22, no. 1 (2005)

ATJ 22.1 image

Editor’s Note
Kathy Foley, iii


Shūshin Kani’iri (Possessed by Love, Thwarted by the Bell): A Kumi Odori by Tamagusuku Chōkun
as staged by Kin Ryōshō translated and annotated by Nobuko Miyama Ochner
Introduction and stage directions by Kathy Foley, 1

Kumi odori is an aristocratic dance-drama developed in 1719 by Tamagusuku Chōkun as part of Okinawan court performance for the ritual investiture of the monarch. Shūshin Kani’iri (Possessed by Love, Thwarted by the Bell) was written for this court presentation and has remained one of the most frequently performed works. The all-male form, which combines music, dance, and narrative, has Okinawan, Chinese, and Japanese roots. Kumi odori’s most important performances for 250 years were in the context of ukwanshin entertainments for the official envoys sent by the Chinese emperor. With the demise of court in 1879, the genre languished until it was designated as an important cultural asset by the Japanese government in 1972. This article gives an introduction to kumi odori based on the practice of Kin Ryōshō, an important twentieth-century practitioner of the form. A translation of the 1719 classic Shūshin Kani’iri (Possessed by Love, Thwarted by the Bell) with stage directions reflecting Kin Sensei’s choreography gives an example of this important art. Shūshin Kani’iri has been a consistent part of the repertoire and was recently presented at the opening of the new National Kumi Odori Theatre (Kokuritsu Kumi Odori Gekijō) in Urasoe-shi near Naha in 2004.

Nobuko Miyama Ochner is an associate professor of East Asian languages and literatures at the University of Hawai‘i at Mänoa. Her recent research has focused on kumi odori and Japanese fiction.

Kathy Foley is a professor of theatre arts at the University of California–Santa Cruz. Her initial research on kumi odori was supported by the East-West Center during the 1976 workshop on Okinawan performing arts at the University of Hawai‘i.


Performing Furyū Nō: The Theatre of Konparu Zenpō
Beng Choo Lim, 33

Konparu Zenpō is one of several late Muromachi nō practitioners whose plays show a strong emphasis on drama and spectacle. Nō scholars in later generations called these plays furyū nō because of this emphasis, and identified them as representative of the nō theatre produced during Zenpō’s period. This paper examines some of Zenpō’s plays that highlight these furyū characteristics, making reference to earlier plays produced by Zeami and his contemporaries with which present day readers and audiences are probably more familiar.

Beng Choo Lim is an assistant professor of Japanese literature and film in the Department of Japanese Studies, National University of Singapore. Her research interests include premodern Japanese literature and performance, audience-performer dynamics, and comparative performance. She is currently working on a monograph on the medieval Japanese nö practitioner Kanze Kojirō Nobumitsu. She would like to thank an anonymous reader, Yamanaka Reiko, Shelley Quinn, Erika de Poorter, and Scot Hislop for their suggestions on this paper.

The Pendulum of Intercultural Performance: Kathakali King Lear at Shakespeare’s Globe
Diane Daugherty, 52

Kathakali King Lear, presented at London’s Globe Theatre in 1999, is a case study in the possibilities and difficulties of intercultural theatre practice. This article uses Bharucha’s and Pavis’s theories on intercultural theatre to frame its analysis and shows how this production, by a multinational troupe collaborating over ten years, crafted a work that crosses Indian and European cultural borders. Text adaptation, character type assignment, casting, resistance by Indian critics, and refinement of earlier versions are detailed. The ultimate success came as this classical text of Western theatre fused with the physicalization of emotion by kathakali masters. The production illuminated both the Western text and kathakali technique in ways that allowed spectators and performers to experience Lear and kathakali anew, offering a positive model for further intercultural work.

Diane Daugherty is an emerita faculty member of Herkimer County Community College currently living in Kerala, India. She has written extensively on kathakali and kutiyattam in Asian Theatre Journal, for which she has served as associate editor. Her work on aspects of Indian performance has appeared in various journals.

Theatre in a Time of Terrorism: Renewing Natural Harmony after the Bali Bombing via Wayang Kontemporer
I Nyoman Sedana, 73

The bombing of the Sari Club on Legian Street, Kuta, Bali, on 12 October 2002 disrupted the natural balance that is sought for in Balinese religion. This article shows how a technically innovative shadow puppet performance that responds to the disaster is informed by the Balinese conception of the natural balance of human life governed by tri hita karana (three elements of harmony) and dasanama kerta (ten elements that cause harmonious prosperity). These ideas provide a context for healing through performance.

I Nyoman Sedana is a faculty member and chairman of the Pedalangan Theatre Department at the Indonesian Institute of Arts (ISI) Denpasar. He received his BA from the Dance Academy of Arts (ASTI) Denpasar, SSP from STSI-Denpasar, MA from Brown University, and PhD from the University of Georgia. As a Balinese dalang (puppet master) and dancer, Sedana has performed wayang and other Balinese theatrical forms in Europe, Australia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Brazil, and the United States.

Juedixi: An Entertainment of War in Early China
Dallas McCurley, 87

Juedixi is a performance genre of the Western Han (206 BCE–23 CE) that developed from martial rites of the central state in early China. The genesis of this art from competitions and performances dedicated to wu (martiality) and held in autumn and winter is detailed. The relationship of the art to a Han strategem to soften and control nomad opponents is explained. The high point of the genre came under Emperor Wu, who used it to impress local and foreign audiences even as he waged a costly war on the frontier. The genre’s excesses were related to the excesses of the unsuccessful war. Juedixi faded after Emperor Wu, but its legacy of variety performance was inherited by the “hundred entertainments” and wu would later reappear in xiqu as one of the two fundamental categories of performance style.

Dallas McCurley is on the faculty at Queens College–City University of New York. She received a PhD from the University of Hawai‘i at Mänoa with a specialty in Chinese theatre. She has published in Italian and Chinese as well as English, and has staged productions fusing Asian and Western styles in Asia, Europe, and the United States.


Magical Realism and Theatre of the Oppressed in Taiwan: Rectifying Unbalanced Realities with Chung Chiao’s Assignment Theatre
Ron Smith, 107

Chung Chiao’s Assignment Theatre uses ideas culled from Magical Realism and Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed to create work that redresses inequalities of class, gender, ethnicity, and other features in contemporary Taiwan. River in the Heart, a production that grew out of a workshop launched in response to a 1999 earthquake, is an example of his work. The performance empowered a group of Hakka women, called the Shigang Mamas, to represent their perspectives in a public forum, prompting discussion of gender inequality in contemporary Taiwan. For the Shigang Mamas the practice of theatre became a dress-rehearsal for real life, and theatre a rehearsal for revolution.

Ron Smith is a PhD candidate in the Department of Dramatic Art at University of California, Santa Barbara, and adjunct faculty at the Brooks Institute of Photography and Film. He has published two articles on theatre for social change and Theatre of the Oppressed work in Taiwan. He has an MFA in scenic and lighting design and has designed in Taiwan, China, and the United States.

Impersonation, Autobiography, and Cross-Cultural Adaptation: Lee Kuo-Hsiu’s Shamlet
Alexander C.Y. Huang, 122

Lee Kuo-Hsiu’s 1992 Shamlet is a “sham” Hamlet that possesses three palimpsestical levels of signification as it rearranges Shakespeare’s play. The first level is the parody of the Shakespearean text, where scripted technical errors and confusion prevail when a fictional Taiwanese theater company rehearses and performs Hamlet. The second level is (auto)biographical: the stories of the characters of the company portraying Hamlet reflect the chaotic condition of theatre making and living in contemporary Taiwan, where the economics of the arts are vexed and the political future of the island is unclear. At a third level, where the parody of the Western classical text and the autobiographical rendition of contemporary East Asian reality confront each other in scripted improvisations, a new Asian modernity emerges in the articulate voice of Lee Kuo-Hsiu.

Alexander C. Y. Huang is assistant professor of comparative literature at Pennsylvania State University. He has a PhD in comparative literature and a joint PhD in humanities from Stanford University. His research focuses on modern Chinese literature, transcultural performances, Shakespeare, and interactions between writing and other forms of cultural productions.


Robert Wilson, director, I La Galigo, with text adaptation and dramaturgy by Rhoda Grauer and music by Rahayu Supanggah
reviewed by Matthew Isaac Cohen 138

Chen Shi-Zheng, director, Peach Blossom Fan, adapted by Edward Mast from the original play by Kung Shang-Ren
reviewed by Carol Fisher Sorgenfrei 150


Mae Smethurst and Christina Laffin, editors, The Noh Ominameshi. A Flower Viewed from Many Directions
reviewed by Stanca Scholz-Cionca, 154

Sui Leung Li, Cross-Dressing in Chinese Opera
reviewed by Ping Fu, 158

Malini Saran and Vinod Khanna, The Ramayana in Indonesia
reviewed by Thomas Hunter, 161


Kathy Foley and Michael Schuster, curators, Divinities, Demons, Kings and Clowns: Puppetry of India and Southeast Asia
reviewed by Bradford Clark, 164


R. V. Ramani, director, Nee Engey: Where Are You?
reviewed by Kathy Foley, 169