Asian Theatre Journal, vol. 25, no. 1 (2008)

Kattaikkuttu youth theatre performer

Editor’s Note, iii


Tradition, Change, and Continuity in Chinese Theatre in the Last Hundred Years: In Commemoration of the Spoken Drama Centenary
Colin Mackerras, 1

Commemorating the centenary of the spoken drama’s introduction into China in 1907, the essay takes up several major themes in Chinese theatre over the last hundred years, such as its political and social implications and the tension between foreign and indigenous influences. The essay argues that drama in China during these years can be viewed largely as a microcosm of history, with politics having more impact on drama than the other way around. It also argues that change outweighs continuity, with foreign influences being stronger than indigenous and becoming more so, despite the persistence of nationalism.

This article is the text of the Asian Theatre Journal Lecture, given in New Orleans on 27 July 2007 as part of the Association for Asian Performance Conference, itself part of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education Conference.


New P’ansori in Twenty-first-century Korea: Creative Dialectics of Tradition and Modernity
Hae-kyung Um, 24

Nearly a century has passed since the first new p’ansori piece The Song of Ch’oe Pyŏng-du was performed at the turn of the twentieth century. While traditional p’ansori, a form of folk musical drama, came to symbolize the cultural and artistic heritage of the Korean nation, new p’ansori, in new millennium, aspires to be a cultural expression that is relevant to the contemporary conditions of everyday life while retaining or even restoring what is considered to be the quintessential p’ansori aesthetics. This article explores the ways in which new p’ansori combines various elements of tradition and modernity in its text, music, and performance style, which, in turn, lead to the polemics of p’ansori aesthetics and the authenticity debate.

Cutud’s Ritual of Nailing on the Cross: Performance of Pain and Suffering
Sir Anril Pineda Tiatco and Amihan Bonifacio-Ramolete, 58

This research investigates the ritual nailing on the cross every Good Friday in Cutud, Pampanga, in the Philippines as a local religiocultural performance. It highlights the ritual’s evolution and historicity of suffering in the context of panata (religious pledge/vow), as a characteristic central to the Filipino people since precolonial times. The roots of the ritual can be traced from pamagdarame (flagellation) and the sinakulo (passion play) written by Ricardo Navarro in 1955. Devotees (participants) of pamagdarame and the sinakulo are participating with intentions of panata. The ritual, manifested through a performance of pain and suffering, allows the devotee’s inner core (kalooban) via his sacrifice to be one with the Supreme Being. The ritual, which has developed into a multifaceted tradition, is not only a religious occasion (an experience of a personal sacrifice or panata for the individual) but also a social drama (an expression of pain and suffering through the performance of Via Crucis o Pasion Y Muerte [Way of the Cross or Passion and Death] and the nailing on the cross performed for the good of others).

Social Change in Kattaikkuttu’s Professional Practice in the Modernizing and Globalizing Society of Tamil Nadu
Esmee Meertens, 77

Kattaikkuttu is a lively South Indian performance tradition. The tradition forms an important part of a Tamil village culture, which is currently changing due to modernization and globalization processes. The social changes that kattaikkuttu performers had to undergo over the last fifty years have affected their social, cultural, economic, and personal development, as well as their position in the field of cultural production in Tamil Nadu. I relate these social changes to the structuralist theories of sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, in order to make sense of the power structures. These changes are then linked to the theory on modernization of development of economist Tariq Banuri, giving perspective on the alterations in kattaikkuttu.


Travel and Tabibanashi in the Early Modern Period: Forming Japanese Geographic Identity
Matthew W. Shores, 101

There are three sections in “Travel and Tabibanashi in the Early Modern Period: Forming Japanese Geographic Identity.” The first is about travel in the Edo period (1600–1868). In this section travel and the important role it played in forming the foundations of Japanese identity are presented. The second section is about tabibanashi (travel stories), a subgenre of rakugo, a form of comic storytelling that was especially popular in early modern Japan. The author’s contention is that geographical and cultural information presented in tabibanashi served to educate the common people about travel and social values of the world in which they lived. In the third section a brief summary of tabibanashi and the information that it conveys to its listeners is given. This article presents the initial findings of research that suggest that tabibanashi and rakugo played a much bigger part in helping shape the foundations of Japanese identity than has been thought to be the case until now.

Theatricality and Cultural Critique in Chinese Cinema
Luo Hui, 122

The various ways in which theatre and film interact generate diverse forms of theatricality in Chinese cinema: jingju films, narrative films containing traditional theatrical performances, and films incorporating modern performance types. The significance of theatre in Chinese cinema will be discussed with two questions in mind: (1) to what extent the aesthetics of traditional Chinese theatre cross over from stage to screen and (2) whether filmic representations of theatre generate a critical discourse vis-à-vis state ideology and cultural policies.

Contemporary Yangge: The Moving History of a Chinese Folk Dance Form
Ellen V. P. Gerdes, 138

Since the beginning of its rule, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has consistently claimed that the performing arts “should assist in the process of educating the masses” (Mackerras 1981: 9). The development of yangge dance is particularly linked to the CCP’s policies during both the party’s establishment and the Cultural Revolution. In this paper, I use personal experience and embodied research to complicate the existing conventional historical narrative that asserts the political exploitation of yangge in modern Chinese history.


XIVème Festival Mondial des Théâtres de Marionnettes, Charleville-Mézières, France (2006)
Claudia Orenstein, 148


Matthew Isaac Cohen, The Komedie Stamboel: Popular Theater in Colonial Indonesia, 1891–1903,
reviewed by Cobina Gillitt, 155

Helen S. E. Parker, Progressive Traditions: An Illustrated Study of Plot Repetition in Traditional Japanese Theatre
reviewed by Julie A. Iezzi, 157

Tomie Hahn, Sensational Knowledge: Embodying Culture through Japanese Dance,
reviewed by Barbara Sellers-Young, 160

Murray J. Levith, Shakespeare in China,
reviewed by Stewart Hawley, 163

Vasudha Dalmia, Poetics, Plays, and Performance: The Politics of Modern Indian Theatre,
reviewed by Sreenath Nair, 165


Terracotta Warriors. Written, produced, and directed by Dennis K. Law
reviewed by Kevin J. Wetmore Jr., 169