Asian Theatre Journal, vol. 22, no. 2 (2005)

ATJ 22.2 image

Editor’s Note
Kathy Foley, iii


Topeng Sidha Karya: A Balinese Mask Dance
Performed by I Ketut Kodi with I Gusti Putu Sudarta, I Nyoman Sedana, and I Made Sidia in Sidha Karya, Badung, Bali, 16 October 2002
Transcribed by I Ketut Kodi; translated by I Nyoman Sedana and Kathy Foley; and introduced by Kathy Foley, 171

After a terrorist bomb exploded in the Sari Club at Kuta Beach, Bali, in October 2002, a topeng performance of Sidha Karya (literally “completing the ritual work”) was presented by I Ketut Kodi and other faculty members from STSI-Denpasar, the Indonesian University of the Arts. The mask dance performance, held at the village of Sidha Kaya in Badung, Bali, was an exorcistic response to the terrorist attack and probed Balinese responses to the event. The introduction gives background on the story and analyzes the way the narrative reflected both current social issues and traditional Balinese philosophy.

I Ketut Kodi is a member of the Padalangan (Puppetry) faculty at ISI, formerly STSI-Denpasar. He is a noted topeng dancer and a puppeteer who performs frequently in Balinese ceremonial performances as well as internationally. He is both a topeng master and a dalang of shadow puppetry. He is one of the first master performers of these arts with a formal education through the tertiary level.

I Nyoman Sedana is a member of the Padalangan Department at ISI, formerly STSI-Denpasar and Secretary of Research and Community Service Division for the institution. He completed an MA at Brown University and a PhD at the University of Georgia. His articles have appeared in Asian Theatre Journal, Asian Music, and Puppetry International. He performs Balinese puppetry and other arts in Bali and internationally.

Kathy Foley is a professor of theatre arts at University of California–Santa Cruz and editor of Asian Theatre Journal.

Support for this work was provided by AMINEF-Indonesia via a Fulbright Senior Research Scholar Grant, UCSC Committee on Research, and Arts Research Institute. The performance was recorded by Dewa Made Darmawan of ISI.


Balinese Mask Dance from the Perspective of a Master Artist: I Ketut Kodi on Topeng
Kathy Foley and I Nyoman Sedana, 199

I Ketut Kodi is one of the most important performers of Balinese topeng (mask) dance. In this interview he shares insight into his education as a performer and his obligations as a mask dancer in contemporary Bali.

Kathy Foley is a professor of theatre arts at University of California–Santa Cruz and editor of Asian Theatre Journal.

I Nyoman Sedana is head of the Padalangan (puppetry) Department at ISI, formerly STSI-Denpasar. He completed an MA at Brown University and a PhD at the University of Georgia. His articles have appeared in Asian Theatre Journal, Asian Music, and Puppetry International. He frequently dances and presents Balinese puppetry in Bali and internationally.

Support for this work was provided by AMINEF-Indonesia via a Fulbright Senior Research Scholar Grant and by the UCSC Committee on Research and Arts Research Institute.

Mask, Gender, and Performance in Indonesia: An Interview with Didik Nini Thowok
Laurie Margot Ross, 214

Contemporary mask performer Didik Nini Thowok carries on a venerable tradition of Javanese female impersonation by a male dancer. His study of cross-gender performance throughout Asia and the world fuels his playful, modern performance, presented in solo mask dances that combine mysterious androgyny and comic sexual impersonation.

Laurie Margot Ross studied topeng cirebon from 1977 to 1978 with Ibu Dasih in Cirebon, West Java, Indonesia. She received her MA in performance studies from New York University and has taught and presented mask performance for many years. She is a PhD candidate in the Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Her focus is on sufist elements of topeng cirebon, the psychological aspects of the mask, and the transmission of emotion between the mask wearer and the audience. Ross is a Townsend/Mellon Discovery Fellow and Fulbright-Hays DDRA Fellow conducting fieldwork in Cirebon, West Java.


Lions, Witches, and Happy Old Men: Some Parallels between Balinese and Japanese Ritual Masks
Margaret Coldiron, 227

The visual and choreographic parallels between Japanese and Balinese mask traditions are striking, and, though the exact interrelationship between masks of these two cultures cannot be proven with historically verifiable data, juxtaposition of the similar genres is useful for understanding mask dance. The masks discussed are the dog/lions Shishi (Japan) and Barong (Bali), the witch-like Hannya (Japan) and Rangda (Bali), and the sacred old men Okina (Japan) and Sidha Karya (Bali). Possible links include cultural diffusion and patterns of human perception. However, the visual language in which these mask characters are expressed and the mythology that delineates them probably comes from Indian Tantric models.

Margaret Coldiron is an actress, teacher, and theatre director. She received her PhD from Royal Holloway, University of London, and is a specialist in actor training and performance ethnography. She is the author of Trance and Transformation of the Actor in Japanese Noh and Balinese Masked Dance-Drama (2004).

Masks, Interface of Past and Future: Nomura Mannojo’s Shingigaku
Yoshiko Fukushima, 249

Kyogen actor Nomura Mannojo developed Shingigaku (“true” gigaku), a performance that, through research in East and Central Asia, attempted to revitalize the mask performance genre of Japan’s seventh to thirteenth centuries. Inspired by twentieth century European work that resurrected commedia dell’arte, he studied the masks and researched performances of Chinese, Tibetan, Bhutanese, Uygur, and Korean culture to devise his 2001 performance. His search for the sources of Japanese theatre in pan-Asian models was cut short by his death in June 2004.

Yoshiko Fukushima earned her PhD at New York University in performance studies. She teaches at the University of Oklahoma and undertakes research on modern Japanese performance.

Only Joking? The Relationship between the Clown and Percussion in Jingju
Ashley Thorpe, 269

The prime function of the clown (chou) in jingju (Beijing “opera”) has often been considered as light entertainment, but there is evidence that could support a different interpretation. The clown is associated with the origin of Chinese acting, and performance shows a fundamental relationship between the clown and drumming which comes from shamanism. While other martial roles share some of the tie to percussion, the improvisational freedom of the clown, the customary verse the clown uses, drumming, and parallels to Taoist ritual music may point back to shamanistic roots. If this is true, the clown’s comedy may come from exorcism and not only joking.

Ashley Thorpe received his PhD from the University of London and currently teaches theatre at Royal Holloway, University of London, and the University of Reading. He has studied jingju in China and performed in the United Kingdom as both a jingju actor and a musician. His book on the role of the clown in traditional Chinese drama is forthcoming from Edwin Mellen Press.


The Mardi Gras Boys of Singapore’s English-Language Theatre
Eng-Beng Lim, 293

This short paper is extracted from a larger project that explores colonial and intercultural queer encounters in performance. Focusing on Singapore as a transnational site, I study how Mardi Gras is appropriated and staged in a local English-language production of the same name, as well as in a large-scale queer party in Singapore, regarded as “Asia’s Mardi Gras.” Singapore’s Mardi Gras boys perform the city-state’s uncertain and superficial transformation from patriarchal father-state to “Asia’s new gay capital” in its bid to attract global queer capital in the form of creative talent and pink-dollar industries. Mardi Gras boys are a lens through which to consider the larger social and global ramifications of the staging of queer boys in this global city-state.

Eng-Beng Lim is currently assistant professor of drama studies at SUNY–Purchase College. He received a PhD in theatre, critical studies from UCLA while in residency at the UCLA International Institute as an associate Global Fellow and the UC President’s Dissertation Year Fellow. He received the American Society for Theater Research’s Dissertation Award and Thomas Marshall Fellowship in 2003. Upon graduation in 2004, he was appointed a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington’s School of Drama and Jackson School of International Studies, where he was affiliated with Southeast Asian Studies Center and Undergraduate Asian Studies Initiative.


Chinese-Speaking Theatre in Perspective: A Symposium
Li Ruru, 310

A symposium on the last ten years of Chinese theatre in Hong Kong shows the diversity of modern drama in Taiwan, the People’s Republic, Hong Kong, and Singapore and points to a rapidly changing future.

Li Ruru is author of Shashibiya: Staging Shakespeare in China (2003) and teaches at the University of Leeds.

Woman and the Changing World on Alternative Global Stage: Sixth Women Playwrights International Conference
Manila, 14–20 November 2003
Lucy Mae San Pablo Burns, 324

This review focuses on the sixth Women Playwrights International (WPI) conference and festival, held in Manila, Philippines, in November 2003. Through a discussion of how the WPI festival both interrogates and stages a mainstream international festival, the review explores alternative global theater and its relationship to questions of gender and geopolitics. The article focuses on examples from the work of artists of Asian ethnicity or descent that were featured in the conference.

Lucy Burns was a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the History of Consciousness Department at the University of California–Santa Cruz. She teaches at UCLA’s Departments of Asian American Studies and World Arts and Culture. Burns is a dramaturge interested in community-based theater projects, and her research interests include Asian American performance, feminist and postcolonial theories, and Filipino Studies. She is currently working on a manuscript on the Pilipino performing body.

Putul Yatra: A Celebration of Indian Puppetry
Sangeet Natak Akademi
New Delhi, March 17–28, 2003
Bradford Clark, 334

A 2003 festival in New Delhi highlighted the state of contemporary Indian puppetry.

Brad Clark is a designer, puppeteer, and professor at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.


Sophiline Cheam Shapiro, director, Samritechak. Royal University of Fine Arts, Phnom Penh
reviewed by Kevin J. Wetmore Jr., 348


Eric C. Rath, The Ethos of Noh; Actors and Their Art
reviewed by Margaret Coldiron, 353

Ian Carruthers and Takahashi Yasunari, The Theatre of Suzuki Tadahi
reviewed by Yukihiro Goto, 356

I Wayan Dibia and Rucina Ballinger, Balinese Dance, Drama and Music: A Guide to the Performing Arts of Bali
reviewed by Bulantrisna Djelantik-Soejoto, 361

Margaret Coldiron, Trance and Transformation of the Actor: Japanese Noh and Balinese Masked Dance-Drama
reviewed by Kathy Foley, 362

Henry Spiller, Gamelan: The Traditional Sounds of Indonesia
reviewed by Matthew Isaac Cohen, 365

Andrew N. Weintraub, Power Plays: Wayang Golek Theatre of West Java
reviewed by Matthew Isaac Cohen, 366

Claire Conceison, Significant Other: Staging the American in China
reviewed by John B. Weinstein, 368

Li Ruru, Shashibiya: Staging Shakespeare in China
reviewed by Alexander C. Y. Huang, 371