Asian Theatre Journal, vol. 31, no. 1 (2014)

The character of Tokio, the son in Yakiniku Dragon, acts as narrator.
The character of Tokio, the son in Yakiniku Dragon, acts as narrator. (Photo: Courtesy the Japan National Theatre)

From the Editor, v

Color Insert follows page 152


Beate Sirota Gordon: Producing Performance at the Asia Society
Kathy Foley, 1

Beate Sirota Gordon (1923–2012) of the Asia Society became a major producer, promoting Japanese and Asian performance in New York and across the United States from the 1950s through the 1990s. Her work contributed to education about Asia in the United States, garnered support for Asian artists both in their home country and in global venues, contributed to intercultural explorations in avant garde circles, and was a contributor to cultural diplomacy through performance in the Cold War era.


Chong Wishing’s Yakiniku Dragon 焼き肉ドラゴン: A Portrait of the Zainichi Korean-Japanese Experience
Philip Flavin, 17

Chong Wishing’s Yakiniku Dragon describes the life of the minority Korean-Japanese (zainichi 在日) population in Osaka during the late 1960s. The introduction gives the historical cultural context for the author’s zainichi ethnic background, discusses aspects of Chong’s life that inform the work, and evaluates his continuing exploration of the zainichi as a permanent Other in Japanese society.


“Democratic Kabuki” for a “Democratic Japan”: 1945–1946
James R. Brandon, 103

Officials in the American Occupation of Japan following the end of World War II promoted “democratic” themes in part by encouraging playwrights to write contemporary plays. This article briefly examines four unusual kabuki plays written and set in devastated postwar Japan (1945–1946), translating portions of the texts and noting how themes of militarism, police thought control, and individualism are handled. Notably postwar “new Japan” is little discussed and the Occupation presence is little acknowledged.

Innovation in : Matsui Akira Continues a Tradition of Change
Mariko Anno and Judy Halebsky, 126

Within the practice of Japanese theatre, there are tensions between preserving the art and allowing change. However, innovation through performance has been central to throughout its long history, from the variant of the Edo era (1603–1868) to the more recent emergence of revival and new . The long career of master Matsui Akira (1946–) offers an individual perspective on the history of change in the tradition of . Based on a series of interviews with Matsui and research conducted at the Kita School of Nō and the Hōsei Nō Research Institute, this article examines Matsui’s innovations, his unusual path toward becoming a professional, and his transnational collaborations.

Socialist Realism and New Subjectivities: Modern Acting in Gao Xingjian’s Cold Theatre
Glenn Odom, 153

While Gao Xingjian’s discussions of acting and theatre have been analyzed in terms of postmodernism, Western modernism, the idea of exile, and traditional Chinese acting techniques, little has been said about Gao’s place within the distinct theoretical, artistic, and material context of the rapidly modernizing pre-Maoist, post-Qing China in which he began his work. Chinese ideas of a distinctly Chinese modernity; the specific way in which China utilized Stanislavski; debates over the status of huaju (spoken drama) and various Chinese forms of theatre; and emergent ideas about the relationship of the state, religion, and the individual provide a seething cauldron of debate. In addition to engaging with Western notions of subjectivity, Gao’s early work specifically maneuvers through the terrain of Chinese debates of the period in order to generate a curiously contingent modern Chinese subjectivity, and, in so doing, provides insights into the nature of Chinese modernity.

Mutual Illumination: The Xinggan Dramas and the Fanjiulou Ritual of Yongkang, Zhejiang
Gene Cooper, 179

This article documents the intimate relationship between drama and ritual in rural China. Drama was an indispensable means of entertaining the deities, enticing them down from the heavens to receive human offerings. The xinggan dramas examined in this article, however, were distinctive in that their content was actually thematically related to the Fanjiulou salvation ritual during which they were performed. Xinggan dramas not only entertained the deities but also provided a means by which audiences were able to visualize in the drama the very process of salvation that the simultaneous conduct of the Fanjiulou ritual was meant to effect. Thus, xinggan dramas and the rituals of Fanjiulou were mutually reinforcing, each contributing to a common goal, each shedding light on the significance of the other.


Pure Love and Beyond: Suzuki Tadashi’s Use of Taiwanese Popular Music in La Dame aux Camélias (2011)
Lia Wen-ching Liang, 204

La Dame aux Camélias is Suzuki Tadashi’s first collaboration with Taiwan’s National Theatre. Interlacing the well-known love story with Taiwanese popular music, Suzuki’s Camélias should be read with his previous works as well as Taiwan’s social and political context in which the production took place. This article examines the complexity brought by extratextual narrative in Suzuki’s selection of popular songs and discusses how Suzuki turned the love story into an allegory of Taiwan’s contested postcoloniality.

Suzuki Tadashi’s La Dame aux Camélias in Taiwan
Iris Hsin-chun Tuan, 228

Postmodern pastiche and hybridity informed the performance La Dame aux Camélias (Taipei, 2011) directed by Tadashi Suzuki (1939–). Suzuki’s production conceived for Taiwan had visual theatrical innovation and contemporary setting, yet the music design could lead to cultural misunderstandings.


River! River! River! A Minjian Eco-Theatre
Jiayun Zhuang, 242

The 2009 eco-theatre production Jianghe xing (River! River! River!), directed by Shanghai-based director Zang Ningbei, reminds its audience of the environmental and ecological impact of hydropower generation projects in the Three Rivers area in Southwest China. This article examines the ways in which River! River! River! identifies itself with minjian xiju (theatre among the people, or, theatre of people to people), and explores River! River! River!’s utopian performative potential to create a public forum within the theatre in which citizens’ questioning is allowed, exchanges of knowledge are encouraged, and involvement in environmental matters are activated.

Tibetan Opera in and outside the Tibet Autonomous Region
Kati Fitzgerald, 270

This article examines common misconceptions in the field of Tibetan opera (lhamo) studies that arise out of analysis of performances conducted in and outside the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). Dichotomies propagated by contextual and environmental elements of performance disallow clear analysis of the core characteristics of performance. An ingrained political and aesthetic prejudice leads to an oversimplification of the merits of lhamo performances inside the TAR and in exile. This article attempts to clarify some of the root reasons for these distortions and posits a new line of future research.


The Legend of Apsara Mera: Princess Norodom Buppha Devi’s Choreography for the Royal Ballet of Cambodia
Suppya Helene Nut, 279

The conception and development of The Legend of Apsara Mera, a new choreography by Princess Buppha Devi of the Royal Ballet of Cambodia, gives insight into how contemporary work is generated in the court ballet repertoire.


Reconstructing Memory, Constructing the Future: An Interview with PM Toh
Tamara Aberle, 290

Agus Nur Amal, aka PM Toh, is an Indonesian performer and storyteller who trained at Jakarta’s Arts Institute and in the art of dangedria, a form of Acehnese storytelling. He is working in Jakarta and Aceh but since 2006 has established an increasingly international portfolio. This interview focuses on the performer’s socially engaged community arts productions in the context of civil society building in Indonesia.


Karnnaparithyagam (The Abandoning of Karna). Premiere of a kathakali play by Sadanam K. Harikumaran
reviewed by Graeme Vanderstoel, 310


Ranjan Kamath, director, Tanvir ka Safarnama,
reviewed by Shayoni Mitra, 315

Betty Bernhard, director, Out! Loud!,
reviewed by Arnab Banerji, 318


Barbara Sparti et al., eds., Imaging Dance: Visual Representations of Dancers and Dancing
reviewed by Kathy Foley, 322

Prumsodun Ok, ed. Moni Mekhala and Ream Eyso
reviewed by Rosemary Candelario, 324

Andrea S. Goldman, Opera and the City: The Politics of Culture in Beijing, 1770–1900
reviewed by Liana Chen, 327

SanSan Kwan, Kinesthetic City: Dance and Movement in Chinese Urban Spaces
reviewed by Emily Wilcox, 329

Shiamin Kwa, Strange Eventful Histories: Identity, Performance, and Xu Wei’s Four Cries of a Gibbon
reviewed by Guanda Wu, 332

Alok Bhalla, trans. and intro., Andha Yug: The Age of Darkness
reviewed by Sruti Bala, 334

Pratibha Agarwal and Samik Bandyopadhyay, eds., Hindi Theatre in Kolkata: Shyamanand Jalan and His Times
reviewed by Arnab Banerji, 336

Linda Hess with U. R. Ananthamurthy and Ashok Vajpeyi, Singing Emptiness: Kumar Gandharva Performs the Poetry of Kabir
reviewed by Kathy Foley, 338

Peter Chelkowski, ed., Eternal Performance: Ta’ziyeh and Other Shiite Rituals
reviewed by Kathy Foley, 340

Lucie Folan et al., Stars of the Tokyo Stage: Natori Shunsen’s Kabuki Actor Prints
reviewed by William Fleming, 343

Hiroshi Nara, ed., Inexorable Modernity: Japan’s Grappling with Modernity in the Arts
reviewed by Yoshiko Fukushima, 346

Tadashi Uchino, Crucible Bodies: Postwar Japanese Performance from Brecht to the New Millennium
reviewed by David Jortner, 350