Asian Theatre Journal, vol. 28, no. 1 (2011)

Special Issue: Asian Shakespeare 2.0

Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in Gambuh Macbeth
Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in Gambuh Macbeth

From the Editor, iii

Special Issue Editor’s Introduction: Asian Shakespeare 2.0, 1


Shakespeare-Asian Theatre Fusions: Globe-“alization” of Naked Masks (Bangkok), Shadowlight (San Francisco), and Setagaya Public Theatre (Tokyo)
Kathy Foley, 7
This essay explores historical and cultural features that have contributed to increases in use of Shakespeare by both Asian performers and Western artists who have been deeply affected by Asian theatre models, using the examples of Ninart Boonphothong’s Bangkok-based Naked Masks Group, Larry Reed’s San Francisco–based Shadowlight Company, and Nomura Mansai’s Tokyo-based Setagaya Pubic Theatre.

Kathy Foley is a professor of theater arts at the University of California at Santa Cruz and is the editor of Asian Theatre Journal. This paper was presented at the University of Hawai‘i and the Association for Asian Performance Conference in 2007. The author acknowledges those groups and the support of the UCSC Academic Senate and the Division of the Arts Research Institute, as well as Chulalongkorn University Master of Arts in Cultural Management program.

Toward a Poetic Minimalism of Violence: On Tang Shu-wing’s Titus Andronicus 2.0
Howard Y. F. Choy, 44
A review of six theatre and film versions of Titus Andronicus notes varied approaches to the text: Peter Brook’s stylized symbolism, Ninagawa Yukio’s victim art, Jane Howell’s mimetic realism, Julie Taymor’s postmodern absurdism, Wang Chia-ming’s playful parody, and Christopher Dunne’s Gothic horror. Tang Shu-wing’s approach in Titus Andronicus 2.0 (Hong Kong: Tang Shu-wing Theatre Studio, 2009) shows his rejection of sensationalist and consumerist presentations of the violence in the script. Tang’s minimalism de-dramatizes violence via the narrative form of tale telling, and then poeticizes it through the performance of the poetic body, creating a profound and thought-provoking production.

Howard Y. F. Choy is an associate professor at Wittenberg University. A journalist and theatre critic from Hong Kong, he is the author of Remapping the Past: Fictions of History in Deng’s China, 1979–1997 (Leiden: Brill 2008). His research interests focus on Chinese culture and literature, with the most recent project being a comparative study of political jokes across mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the United States.

“Ancestral Shades”: The Arti Foundation and the Practice of Pelestarian in Contemporary Bali

Brett Hough, 67
In 1999 the Arti Foundation, under the creative leadership of Kadek Suardana, staged an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth in the classical Balinese dance-drama form of gambuh. The production signaled the foundation’s intent to actively engage with classical forms of Balinese performing arts as a means of stimulating interest in their ongoing survival. The foundation was established and staged Gambuh Macbeth within a context of a discourse exhorting Balinese to preserve their heritage, in particular those classical forms such as gambuh perceived to be in danger of disappearing. This discourse of preservation (pelestarian) has come to encapsulate a sense of the past as representing demise or loss and a concomitant imperative to intervene to ensure that forms do not die out. At an official level the discourse has tended to be somewhat programmatic and based on a static sense of pelestarian as “museumification.” My concern in this article is to explore the implications of such a discourse for artistic production in Bali. In particular, how it can impose constraints upon choreographers, composers, and dramaturgs seeking to create modern Balinese performing arts that resonate with a wider public surrounded by a surfeit of traditional forms. I argue that the Arti Foundation and the production of Gambuh Macbeth offer insight into the potential of pelestarian that offers a creative model for reinvigorating traditional forms in Bali.

Brett Hough is a lecturer in anthropology and Indonesian studies at Monash University. His doctoral research was a study of the College of Indonesian Arts, Denpasar, and the institutionalization and bureaucratization of the performing arts in Bali since the 1960s. He has also been a supporting member of the Arti Foundation since its inception in the late 1990s.

Shamanism in Korean Hamlets since 1990: Exorcising Han

Lee Hyon-u, 104
During the Korean Shakespeare boom of the last twenty years, Hamlet has been performed more than any other drama. Hamlet productions admired by Korean audiences and critics have, like other successful Shakespeare productions in the same period, shared a common tendency for Koreanization in respect of style and theme. The Koreanization of Hamlet productions, in particular, is closely connected with shamanism. The most prominent of Hamlet productions since the 1990s stage rituals like the gut—in which a shaman appears to be possessed. Looking back over the hundred-year history of Hamlet in the modern Korean theatre, this paper argues that these shamanistic Hamlets, which have emerged with democratization, globalization, and the extended freedom of the 1990s, serve to exorcise pain of a people who have suffered from the problems of “to be or not to be” through times of colonialism, war, dictatorship, and IMF crisis. Examining the major Hamlet productions (1993–2007), this paper explains the relationship between Hamlet and Korean shamanism, which is closely connected with Korean people’s han, an indigenous sentiment of pain and regret.

Lee Hyon-u is a professor in the Department of English at Soonchunhyang University in South Korea. He graduated from Korea University (BA 1986; PhD 1994). His work focuses on Shakespeare, especially in performances. He published Shakespeare: Audience, Stage, and Texts (in Korean) in 2004. He has translated The First Quarto of Hamlet and Seneca’s Oedipus, both of which were published in 2007. He has published many essays, written theatre criticism, directed Shakespeare productions, and performed as an actor on stage and in television. He is editor of journals for the Classic and Renaissance English Literature Association of Korea and the Shakespeare Association of Korea, and is a correspondent of “The World Shakespeare Bibliography” (online) produced by Shakespeare Quarterly.

Otelo, Intercultural Spectatorship, and Ocular Proof
Judy Celine Ick, 129
Is intercultural Shakespeare always apprehended at first sight? This essay explores the related notions of spectacle and spectatorship in intercultural/Asian Shakespeare and argues for an understanding of interculturality beyond presentational spectacle or obviously visible relocation. Ricardo Abad’s production of Othello (Otelo, Ang Moro ng Venecia, Tanghalang Ateneo 2008) challenges conventional notions of a play’s location by deliberately obscuring visual cues of cultural specificity. Instead, it locates the play within the aesthetics of the Philippine komedya and allows for the emergence of a culturally disposed vision of the play in which the fact of its interculturality emerges not from the visually represented onstage locus but from the audience’s habitus or a cultural subjectivity that shapes its reception. Otelo underscores the vital role of spectatorship as an element in the production of the intercultural and makes a case for the idea that interculturalism is only created or completed by audience response.

Judy Celine Ick is on the faculty of the Department of English and Comparative Literature at the University of the Philippines. She obtained her PhD from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst on a Fulbright scholarship and was also an Asia Fellow and Visiting Research Scholar at the University of Malaya. She is the author of Unsex Me Here: Female Power and Shakespearean Tragedy (University of the Philippines Dilman, Office of Vice Chancellor of Research, 1999), Bearers of Benevolence: The Thomasites and Public Education in the Philippines (Anvil Publishing, 2001), and several articles on the history of Shakespeare and colonial education in the Philippines and Malaysia.

Cultural Imperialism and Intercultural Encounter in Merchant Ivory’s Shakespeare Wallah
Dan Venning, 149
The 1965 Merchant Ivory Productions film Shakespeare Wallah depicts a British theatrical troupe performing Shakespeare in post-independence India. Although the film situates the viewer’s sympathy with the British members of the troupe, the filmmakers also present the troupe ironically, showing how they are floundering and nostalgic in the face of a liberated India. The film is made more complex by the fact that the actors playing the central roles were themselves members of the Shakespeareana troupe that had actually toured Shakespearean productions across India both before and after independence; several of the actors were essentially playing themselves. The film and its characters—both the real and fictionalized versions—thus adopt a highly ambivalent attitude toward postcolonialism and the role of Shakespeare in India. This article begins with an overview of interculturalism and cultural imperialism as they relate to Shakespeare in Asia and then explores how these different modes of postcolonial cross-cultural interaction are depicted and performed in this fascinating film.

Dan Venning is a doctoral candidate in theatre at the CUNY Graduate Center. His dissertation examines the popular reception of Shakespeare in Germany from 1817 to 1867. Dan has presented papers at a variety of graduate student, national, and international conferences, and has published book and theatre reviews in Theatre Journal, Theatre Survey, and Western European Stages. His last article, on Shakespeare in Central Park, appeared in Forum for Modern Language Studies. Dan presented earlier versions of this paper at the 2009 British Shakespeare Association meeting in London and the 2009 meeting of the American Society for Theatre Research in Puerto Rico.


Political Theatre: The Rise and Fall of Rome and The Sword of Freedom, Two Translations of Julius Caesar in Meiji Japan by Kawashima Keizō and Tsubouchi Shōyō
Aragorn Quinn, 168
Julius Caesar initially seems a curious choice for the first two full translations of Shakespeare into Japanese. In seeking to understand the early popularity of the play, this article examines the translations by Kawashima Keizō and Tsubouchi Shōyō within the context of performative modes of political discourse in 1880s Japan. This article argues that Shōyō’s translation demonstrates a naturalizing translation strategy and a progressive political agenda, while Kawashima’s translation strategy is foreignizing and is allied with the establishment. It further argues that their diametrically opposed interpretations are both inscribed in the source text and manifest themselves in ways that address political and historical conditions specific to the early Meiji period (1868–1912).

Aragorn Quinn is a graduate student in the department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at Stanford University. His interests include translation theory and Japanese theatre during the Meiji era, and he is currently conducting dissertation research on politics and the arts in turn-of-the-twentieth-
century Japan.


King Lear in Beijing and Hong Kong
Daniel S. P. Yang, 184
This paper reports on the author’s own translation of King Lear, which he directed for the Hong Kong Repertory Theatre in 1993, comparing it to an adaptation by Sun Jiaxiu staged by the Central Academy of Drama in Beijing in 1986. An earlier version of this article was delivered at the Scaena: Shakespeare and his Contemporaries in Performance international conference at St. John’s College, Cambridge University, 13–15 August 1997, and was scheduled for publication in an associated volume, which was later aborted, delaying the information which appears here.

Daniel S. P. Yang is a professor emeritus at the Department of Theatre and Dance, University of Colorado at Boulder. For ten years he was producing artistic director of the Colorado Shakespeare Festival in the United States. He was also artistic director of the Hong Kong Repertory Theatre from 1983 to 1985 and 1990 to 2001.

Another Midsummer Night’s Dream in Ho Chi Minh City
Khai Thu Nguyen, 199
This report details the activities of the Ho Chi Minh City theatre company North-East-West-South (NEWS), cofounded and codirected by the author, noting the adaptation of Shakespeare to a Vietnamese milieu.

Khai Thu Nguyen received her PhD in the Program in Performance Studies at University of California, Berkeley, and is the James R. Gray Lecturer in the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies. She has been supported by Fulbright-Hays Dissertation Research Abroad and the UC Pacific-Rim Research Program Fellowships for research on Vietnamese theatre.

A Bangzi Merchant of Venice in Taipei: Yue/Shu (Bond)
Ching-Hsi Perng, 222
This report, discussing the author’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice to Henan-area bangzi, is revised from a speech given at the National Taiwan University Shakespeare Forum’s conference Shakespeare in Culture, 26 –28 November 2009.

Ching-Hsi Perng, a retired distinguished professor of drama and English at National Taiwan University, now teaches at Fu Jen Catholic University as a visiting professor of comparative literature. He has written extensively on Shakespeare, Chinese drama, and other topics. He is the founder of National Taiwan University’s Shakespeare Forum ( and Taiwan ShakeScene ( Coeditor (with Biqi Beatrice Lei) of Shakespeare in Culture (forthcoming from National Taiwan University Press), he is currently working on a new, annotated Chinese translation of Measure for Measure.

Ku Na’uka’s Hamlet in Tokyo: An Interview with Miyagi Satoshi
Mika Eglinton, 234
This interview was conducted in Nishisugamo, Tokyo, on 12 March 2006, a year before Ku Na’uka entered a “period of solo activities” and fifteen years after the formation of the company. In April 2007, Miyagi Satoshi became the artistic director of the Shizuoka Performing Arts Center (SPAC), taking over Suzuki Tadashi’s position. Since then, Miyagi has directed several pieces, including Hamlet (2008), with actors from SPAC, marking a clean break from the unique style and method of Ku Na’uka. In this extracted interview Miyagi reflects back on his directorial debut production of Hamlet (1990).

Mika Eglinton completed a PhD at the University of Tokyo by coursework and is a PhD candidate at Royal Holloway, University of London, writing on contemporary receptions of East Asian Shakespeare. She is also actively involved in the creation of theatre as a translator, dramaturg, and critic. Her theatre works include the Japanese-English translations of Sulayman Al-Bassam’s Al-Hamlet Summit (Tokyo International Festival, 2004), the Stephen Greenblatt–initiated project Cardenio (Yokohama Red Brick House, 2006), and Olivier Py and Oriza Hirata’s Epistle to Young Actors (Shizuoka Performing Arts Centre, 2010).


Global Shakespeares and Shakespeare Performance in Asia: Open-Access Digital Video Archives
Alexander C.Y. Huang, 244
Asian performances of Shakespeare in Asia, Europe, and beyond have transformed both Shakespeare and Asian cultures. Global Shakespeares and Shakespeare Performance in Asia (SPIA) chronicles this exciting new wave of East-West cultural exchange and makes primary research material including videos freely available to researchers, educators, and students. This review discusses the philosophy behind Global Shakespeares and SPIA, a collaborative archival and research project, and the unique resources it provides, including video highlights with English subtitles, photos, and texts from Asia, the United States, and Europe.

Alexander C. Y. Huang is an associate professor in the Department of Comparative Literature at Pennsylvania State University, a research affiliate in literature at MIT, general editor of The International Yearbook and vice president of the Association for Asian Performance. His recent book, Chinese Shakespeares: Two Centuries of Cultural Exchange (Columbia University Press, 2009), received the Modern Language Association’s (MLA) Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize and an honorable mention in the competition for the Joe A. Callaway Prize for the Best Book on Drama and Theatre. He recently served as distinguished visiting professor at the Seoul National University (Korea). He is currently working on a book on comedy, sponsored by an American Council of Learned Societies fellowship.


Timothy Billings with Jim Kuhn, exhibition curation, and Alexander C. Y. Huang, video curation, Imagining China: The View from Europe, 1550–1700
reviewed by Kathy Foley, 251


Tempesutu arashi nochi hare (The Tempest: Sunshine after the Storm), National Bunraku Theatre
reviewed by Bradford Clark, 257

Yi Sang Counts to Thirteen, by Sung Rno, author, and Lee Breuer, director
reviewed by Kim Yoon Young, 261


Alexander C. Y. Huang and Charles S. Ross, eds., Shakespeare in Hollywood, Asia, and Cyberspace
reviewed by Rose Elfman, 267

Dennis Kennedy and Yong Li Lan, eds., Shakespeare in Asia: Contemporary Performance
reviewed by Kathy Foley, 269

Denise Heywood, Cambodian Dance: Celebration of the Gods
reviewed by Kathy Foley, 272

Loren Edelson, Danjūrō’s Girls: Women on the Kabuki Stage
reviewed by Julie A. Iezzi, 275

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