Asian Theatre Journal, vol. 30, no. 1 (2013)

Scene from Dreamers
Scene from Dreamers
(Photo: Ministry of Culture, Taiwan)

From the Editor, iii

Color Insert follows page 148


The Case of Princess Baihua—State Diplomatic Functions and Theatrical Creative Process in China in the 1950s and 1960s
Liu Siyuan, 1

Based on archival scripts, discussion records, and interviews of surviving artists, this article examines the impact of China’s state diplomatic demand and shifting political and ideological circumstances on the creation and revisions of a jingju (Beijing opera) play titled Princess Baihua in the late 1950s and early 1960s. In 1958, a kunqu scene from the Ming dynasty chuanqi (marvel play) piece The Story of Baihua was selected and significantly revised for a cultural-diplomatic tour to Europe. After the tour, the jingju actress Li Yuru adapted this one-act into a short jingju play. In 1960, as Li and her colleagues at the Shanghai Jingju Theatre were preparing to expand Li’s version into a full-length play, foreign minister Chen Yi suggested a fundamental change to the premise of the play in order to utilize it for China’s Cold War diplomacy. Chen’s directive, however, introduced major creative challenges for the team of actors, playwrights, directors, and cultural officials in charge of the revision process that went through four versions between 1960 and 1961, which was further complicated by the volatile ideological pendulum of the era.

Liu Siyuan is an assistant professor of theatre at the University of British Columbia. He has published research articles on twentieth-century Chinese and Japanese theatre in Theatre Journal, TDR, Asian Theatre Journal, and Text and Presentation.

Zeami’s Confucian Theatre
Gary Mathews, 30

Buddhism, particularly Zen, is by far the most widely recognized extratheatrical influence on Zeami’s drama theory and practice. This article argues that while Zeami draws extensively on Buddhist ideas to conceptualize his performance practices and especially to describe the relations between actor and audience, Confucianism is the fundamental influence on his thinking about . Confucianism establishes the purpose of as a performing art, namely, to promote peace and harmony among the people. To Zeami, the distinctive way that can realize this purpose is by fostering empathy in the audience through their identification with the experience and feelings of the characters on stage. This conviction inspires his lifelong search for the most effective means of engaging the audience in this process of identification. He regularly resorts to Buddhist aesthetic, psychological, and philosophical ideas to elucidate those means. But the purpose they serve always retains its Confucian inspiration.

Gary Mathews teaches classical languages and literature at North Carolina State University. He received his PhD in comparative literature from the University of California, Berkeley, and taught humanities at San Francisco State University and the University of North Carolina School of the Arts before coming to NCSU. He has trained in performance since 2000 with Richard Emmert and Kita school master actors Akira Matsui, Sadamu Omura, and Kinue Oshima. He is a founding member of Theatre Nohgaku, a company whose mission is creating and performing original English-language plays in traditional style, and a former editor of Theatre Nohgaku’s newsletter In the Noh.

Yeonwoo Mudae and the Korean Theatre Movement in the 1980s
Jungman Park, 67

Yeonwoo Mudae is an exemplary theatre company of Korean theatre of the 1980s. It focused on newly created pieces (changjak-geuk) to provide a critical and historical understanding of contemporary Korean politics and culture. Using Brechean epic theatre, elements of madang-geuk (outdoor, episodic performances colored by traditional Korean theatre aesthetics), and local literature or history as its source, the company transitioned from a student workshop with no space of its own to a group with a permanent little theatre–style space in first the Shinchon area and then the Daehakro theatre district. Its exemplary productions both reflected and spurred the movement toward democratization and freedom of speech in the fraught political environment of a country repressed by the military-led government of President Chun Doo-Hwan.

Jungman Park is an assistant professor in School of English for Interpretation and Translation at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies. His research interests are theatre history (both Western and Korean) and modern British and American drama. His publications have appeared in Journal of Modern British and American Drama, Hanguk Yeongeukhak (Korean Theatre Studies), Journal of American Studies, Journal of English Language and Language, Asian Theatre Journal, and Shakespeare Reviews.

Politics and Theatre in the PRC: Fifty Years of Teahouse on the Chinese Stage
Shiao-ling Yu, 90

Ever since its introduction to China in the early twentieth century, spoken drama (huaju) has been at the forefront of social and political changes. Its realistic portrayal of life and use of spoken dialogue made it an ideal vehicle to promote social reforms and to serve politics. This study investigates the relationship between politics and theatre in the People’s Republic of China by focusing on a masterpiece of modern Chinese drama: Lao She’s play Chaguan (Teahouse, 1957), which chronicles fifty years of modern Chinese history from the demise of the Qing dynasty to the eve of the communist victory. This essay examines how historical events are portrayed, how history served as a commentary on political conditions of the 1950s, and how changing political climates have affected the productions and reception of this play. It asks whether the new critical opinions of the past few years that question the earlier politically correct interpretation might invite new ways to stage the script.

Shiao-ling Yu is an associate professor of Chinese at Oregon State University. Her research interests are Chinese drama, both classical and modern. Her anthology Chinese Drama after the Cultural Revolution was the winner of a National Endowment for Arts translation fellowship. Her other publications have appeared in various anthologies and scholarly journals such as The Columbia Anthology of Modern Chinese Drama, Asian Theatre Journal, TDR, China Quarterly, Chinese Literature Today, Chinoperl Papers, Renditions, and Tamkang Review.

Bangsawan: Creative Patterns in Production
Mohd. Effindi Samsuddin and Rahmah Bujang, 122

Bangsawan, an operatic form, is a living theatre in Malaysia. This article examines its structure and creative processes, associates it with social issues and acceptance by a multiethnic audience, and relates the history of the genre.

Rahmah Bujang is a professor at the Academy of Malay Studies of the University of Malaya, where she has taught since 1969. The first to do research on bangsawan as a theatre form, she received her MA in 1974 from the University of Malaya and her PhD in 1979 from the University of Hull, England. She has received grants from the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, the University of Singapore to do research in Indonesia, and the Japan Foundation for study of theatre in Japan.

Mohd. Effindi Samsuddin is on the Culture Centre faculty of the University of Malaya, where he is currently the Coordinator of the Theater Program. He has just passed his doctoral thesis in the field of choreography.

The Politics of Difference in Krishen Jit’s Theatre in the 1970s: “A Time of Intense Questioning” in Malaysian Culture
Charlene Rajendran, 145

Contemporary Malaysian theatre has often negotiated the tensions and conflicts of cultural difference, attempting to reflect on and redefine the constructs of identity. Malaysian theatre director Krishen Jit explored alternative performance strategies for looking at depictions of modern society, such as interracial casting and physically stylized enactments of scripts, to expand how constructs of culture could be reshaped. This article focuses on his work in the 1970s, when he began to stage modern Malaysian identities as discursive formations that allowed for permeable boundaries.

Charlene Rajendran is a lecturer in drama and performance at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Her research interests focus on the politics of culture in contemporary theatre and contextually based integrative processes in arts education.


Dreamers’ Nightmare: The Melancholia of the Taiwanese Centennial Celebration
Cheng Fan-Ting, 172

Dreamers is a musical written by Lai Sheng-Chuan and directed by Ding Nai-Cheng and Lu Poshen to celebrate the centennial of the founding of the Republic of China on 10 October 1911. With US $7 million in government funds, the musical delivered the government’s message of Taiwan’s economy’s strength. However, Dreamers drew criticism from Taiwanese intellectuals for its arguable interpretation of the origin of Taiwan and its failure to address imperative social issues. Employing Sigmund Freud’s and Anne Anlin Cheng’s model of melancholia, I examine the title, the story, and the staging of Dreamers to see how this musical discloses that Taiwan, on the one hand, desires an independent national subjectivity and, on the other hand, refuses to fully grieve and let go of the loss of China. The musical Dreamers teases out the complex social etiology behind the phenomenon of national grief and injury.

Cheng Fan-Ting is currently a PhD candidate in the department of Theater and Performance Studies at UCLA. She received her BA in drama and history at National Taiwan University (2008) and founded Nefes Dance Workshop with choreographers Lin Yu-Han and Hsieh Shu-Chun in Taiwan. In 2009, Cheng received national funding from the Ministry of Education for outstanding scholars working on theatre-related research, which supported her MA from NYU’s Department of Performance Studies (2010). Her academic interests include postcolonial corporeality, identity, and nationality.

Should Nandan Be Abolished? The Debate over Female Impersonation in Early Republican China and Its Underlying Cultural Logic
Guanda Wu, 189

This essay examines the debate over female impersonation in theatre in early Republican China (1912–1937). The adversaries of nandan (female impersonators) saw the social equity between the sexes and the normalcy of gender, sex, and sexuality as integral parts of the process of building a modern nation and contended that theatre should contribute to this endeavor. Supporters of female impersonation saw female actors as hedonistic, underscored women’s inferiority in xiqu performance, and emphasized that female impersonation was essential to the artistry of xiqu’s distinct aesthetic.

Guanda Wu is a PhD student in Asian language, culture, and media at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. He studies traditional Chinese theatre of the late eighteenth through the twentieth centuries with a particular interest in the modernization of traditional Chinese theatre in the late Qing and Republican era.

Suzuki Tadashi’s Intercultural Progress in South Korea
Jae Kyoung Kim, 207

This article examines Suzuki Tadashi’s intercultural progress in South Korea focusing on his production of Electra (2008) with a Korean cast. This production led Suzuki to build his satisfying network with Korean performers and propel his active participation in Korean theatre festivals as a director as well as a festival organizer. This article aims to provide a new approach to understand Suzuki’s interculturalism within East Asia.

Jae Kyoung Kim completed her PhD degree from the University of Georgia in 2012. Her research areas include Korean theatre, Japanese theatre, intercultural theatre, and theatre festivals.


A Celebration of Gamelan Sekar Petak’s Thirtieth Anniversary and of the British Gamelan Scene: Wayang Lokananta: The Gamelan of the Gods. University of York, Department of Music, 26–28 April 2012. York, United Kingdom
Ginevra House, 223

This report discusses the wayang and conference held to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of gamelan at the University of York and discusses the development of wayang and gamelan in the British context.

Ginevra House is a doctoral student at the University of York researching composition for gamelan in Britain. She was also the lead organizer of the Gathering of the Gamelans
and co-producer of Wayang Lokananta.


Catherine Diamond, Communities of Imagination: Contemporary Southeast Asian Theatres
reviewed by Jennifer Goodlander, 233

Khenpo Phuntsok Tashi, Invoking Happiness: Guide to the Sacred Festivals of Bhutan and Gross National Happiness
reviewed by Kathy Foley, 236

Davesh Soneji, Unfinished Gestures: Devadasis, Memory, and Modernity in South India
reviewed by Kristen Rudisill, 239

Heidrun Bruckner, Hanne M. de Bruin, and Heike Moser, eds., Between Fame and Shame: Performing Women—Women Performers in India
reviewed by Farley Richmond, 241

Arjun Ghosh, A History of the Jana Natya Manch: Plays for the People
reviewed by Arnab Banerji, 245

Graham Ley and Sarah Dadswell, eds., British South Asian Theatres: A Documented History
reviewed by Kathy Foley, 248

Graham Ley and Sarah Dadswell, eds., Critical Essay on British South Asian Theatre
reviewed by Kathy Foley, 250

Jean-Jacques Tschudin, Histoire du Théâtre Classique Japonais
reviewed by Leonard C. Pronko, 254

Joseph L. Anderson, Enter a Samurai: Kawakami Otojirō and Japanese Theatre in the West
reviewed by Jonah Salz, 257

Daniel Gallimore, Sounding like Shakespeare: A Study of Prosody in Four Japanese Translations of A Midsummer Night’s Dream
reviewed by Tim Medlock, 260

Bruce Baird, Hijikata Tatsumi and Butoh: Dancing in a Pool of Gray Grits
reviewed by Rosemary Candelario, 263